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Frederick museum director solves TV history mysteries page 2


 The show 'Who Do You Think You Are?' taught Ashley Judd about her ancestors.
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Date published: 8/16/2011

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When he provides commentary he might be on the air two or three minutes for one show, much longer for another. He finds being on TV is good for the museum.

"Every time I've done a show, people arrive at the front desk and say, 'We just saw your director on television and we want to see the museum,'" he said. "It brings tourists to Frederick and it helps keep our museum in the public eye."

The exposure has also given him a public face, which has led to lecture engagements at universities throughout the country.

Judd isn't the only celebrity he's worked with. He did another "Who Do You Think You Are" episode with Brooke Shields about her Civil War ancestor. Unfortunately, his part never aired. They found out she was related to King Louis XIV of France and aired that instead.

"It was awesome meeting her," Wunderlich said. "She was the teen heartthrob of my generation. So getting to spend an afternoon with her was quite an experience."

Wunderlich had his first TV exposure in 1999, one year before he became the National Museum of Civil War Medicine's director of education and three years before he became its executive director.

He was invited to appear on PBS' "The Woodwright's Shop" with host Roy Underhill because he had been making banjos--mostly in the style of the 19th century--since 1992.

"I was scared to death at first, but he really put me at ease," he said. "In that show, I was actually building banjos and, at that time, it was something I could practically do in my sleep."

From there, he appeared on "History Detectives." Soon, other offers started coming.

He works with a research group from the museum--including his top researcher, Terry Reimer. They once did a ballistic test on a ham to help determine if a cowboy was shot with a soft-tipped arrow or a rifle.

"We provide research and fact-checking and storyline recommendations," he said. His favorite show was "The Real Lonesome Dove," on History Channel. He spent days in New Mexico following exploits of Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving.

He still plays banjo. But now he's developed more interests.

"I tend to like all history, even if it's something that is not my normal study," he said. "It's fun when I prepare for those shows to do the historical research. I've come from being primarily a banjo guy to being a medicine, ballistics, Civil War, history guy."


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