May 4th Visitor’s Center receives two awards



Kent State University’s May 4 Visitor’s Center recently received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Ohio Local History Alliance and a second award for a film featured in the second gallery.

Blair Donald

Kent State University’s May 4th Visitor’s Center recently received two awards, one for the center itself and one for a film featured in the second gallery.

The Visitor’s Center was awarded with the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Ohio Local History Alliance , or OLHA. The Alliance recognized 16 historical centers in various places in Ohio for their achievements in historical preservation.

Lori Boes, assistant director of the Visitor’s Center, said that the application process began in August. She said that the Visitor’s Center was deserving of the award because it is such a powerful exhibit.

“We get the same comment over and over again,” she said. “People come through and at the end, I mean after seeing the video in gallery three, people can get very emotional. What they say to us over and over again is ‘this exhibit is very powerful.’ I think the story resonates with people.”

Creators of the exhibit Carole Barbato and Laura Davis said that they felt compelled to tell the story of what happened on May 4th. They are both retired Kent State professors and were students at Kent at the time of the shootings.

“We looked at each other and said ‘we have to write our history,’ because we can’t leave the university without having done that,” said Davis. We felt like we had a responsibility, like, there literally had been this calling that we felt compelled to answer.”

Barbato and Davis said that they felt it was important to represent all the points of view and review all the available facts in both the movie and the exhibit.

“We want each person to come away with his or her own reaction and interpretation. That’s why we don’t editorialize,” Barbato said. “We didn’t want to take a particular position, we wanted to present the facts at the most representative documented evidence that we have to date and let people decide what this means to them.”

Davis said, “There is that multiplicity of perspectives and a kind of open-endedness that’s acknowledged in the movie as well. So, everything in here is presented in such a way that people, any visitor is given the basic facts.”

Davis and Barbato created the film with GTOO media. Producer Mike Buday said that he was “very honored to be a part of the team that would help share this new perspective on those events.”

“I feel very, very proud to have worked on this program, I am proud of what reaction I saw from people who were watching it there at the visitor’s center, and I’m glad that the folks at CINE and the peers who reviewed it also saw the value of that film,” Buday said. “It’s a powerful story that should not be lost in the mists of time.”

The film takes viewers through the day of the events in a “matter of fact tone,” Buday said.

“You kind of see where these characters were as the events unfolded in a very matter of fact way,” said Buday. “But obviously eventually, as the film and the events that you see unfold from the day as it unfolds, you can’t help but feeling the shock first of all, and then the horror of realizing that deadly force was used, and then a sense of disbelief from the students’ perspective that this actually happened.”

Davis and Barbato said that winning the awards felt like validation.

“Carole and I had the exact same reaction,” Davis said. “We both felt like we had won the lottery, except even better. Because what was behind that feeling is an affirmation, it’s an acknowledgement by people who have no special interest in this particular subject that it is important, and that there is something to be learned by the deaths of four students that we went to classes with.”

Boes said that she thinks winning the awards will attract more patrons to the center.

“I think we have seen an increase, it’s been kind of hard with the weather, but we have had people come in and say ‘oh I heard you won the Ohio Local History Alliance Award’, so they come and check it out. I think it will increase our traffic even more,” Boes said.

For more information about Kent State’s May 4 Visitors Center, visit

For more information about the Ohio Local History Alliance, visit

For more information about the Council on International Nontheatrical Events, visit

Contact Blair Donald at [email protected].