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Cameras can capture ‘Christmas Past’ in present

This is the 12th year for the “Memories of Christmas Past” exhibition at the Arms Family Museum, but it’s the first time attendees will be able to use the elaborate holiday decorations as the perfect backdrop for their Instagram selfies.

The Mahoning Valley Historical Society is lifting its “no photography” policy.

Dave Ragan, communications manager for the MVHS, said visitors frequently ask if they can take photos, and the requests have become more commonplace with most people having high-quality cameras in their cellphones.

“The staff weighed in on all considerations and decided ‘Memories of Christmas Past’ was a good time to roll out the new policy,” he said.

Visitors will have to rely on the Christmas lights for illumination; flash photography is strictly forbidden.

“Even that instantaneous flash over time can do damage,” Ragan said.

The theme for this year’s exhibition is “By the Fireside” and designer Anthony Worrellia created specific displays for each of the seven fireplaces in the historic home.

“The fireplace and the mantle are iconic elements for the holidays — the hanging of stockings, the descent of Santa through it,” Ragan said. “We thought it would be nice to use the fireplace as a symbol of the heart of the home. Warmth comes from the fireplace.”

“Memories of the Past” is the most labor intensive exhibit, Ragan said, but it draws the largest crowds, which makes it a valuable component of the historical society’s programming.

“Christmas decorations bring people in, but along the way they get a sense of the history of the house and early 20th century life in the Mahoning Valley,” he said.