Matagorda County Museum Our Blog Culturally Relevant and Intersectional Exhibits

Culturally Relevant and Intersectional Exhibits

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histolircal exhibits

The best exhibitions offer inclusive visual stories that help visitors to connect, in some way, with bigger ideas through the materials displayed. In other words, they tell a nonlinear form of cultural argument that is simultaneously an interpretation and a metaphor. They are like a “cabinet of curiosities,” albeit one that is thoughtfully researched and intentionally curated to engage visitors.

The Horse

This exhibition explores the powerful and continuing relationship between humans and horses. It starts with the earliest interactions that led to horse domestication and moves through the dramatic impact these animals have had on warfare, trade, transportation, agriculture, and sports. It features spectacular fossils and cultural objects including sculptures, paintings, and textiles.

Body Art

This exhibit explored how human beings around the world, past and present, decorate their bodies. It featured stunning sculptures, paintings, and cultural objects, along with contemporary and historical photographs. It also examined the historical and cultural significance of various body adornment practices such as tattooing, piercing, body painting, reshaping, henna, scarification, and body adornment in general.

Intersecting History

Museums have an obligation to intersect histories that are often overlooked or excluded from the larger national narrative, especially in our polarized society. This is an essential part of the mission of a nonprofit museum.

But it’s not easy to do. It takes research into new sources and conversations with people who live in the communities served by museums to develop the most relevant, meaningful, and engaging exhibitions. It requires a willingness to challenge assumptions and take risks. It requires a commitment to being an effective steward of the public trust.

It’s not possible to do it alone, either. That’s why many museums partner with other organizations to bring these new, important, and inclusive histories to their communities.

Museums that work together to present these diverse narratives can make a big difference in the lives of the people they serve.

Working with community historians to create these intersectional experiences can be a complex process, but it is also an incredibly worthwhile one. It can help to open up new spaces for discussion and debate about important social issues, such as race, justice, and public memory.

Historic structures, such as homes and churches, can pose special challenges for designing and installing exhibitions. They are typically designed for preservation, so there can be limitations on fastening objects to walls and ceilings, power locations, and even paint colors. These limitations can limit the size and scope of an exhibition. They can also add costs. But, as Ken Turino points out, it is still possible to design great exhibitions in historic buildings.