The Public Historian is a journal that reviews historical exhibits and historical built environments in public institutions and organizations. The magazine evaluates exhibitions in large, nationally recognized museums as well as smaller, local museums and community centers. The journal also features comparative essays that compare the exhibits of two or more museums.
Visual storytelling is an important part of the process of creating historical exhibits. Instead of presenting history as a dry, book-like text, visual stories create a drama and allow the audience to experience history as an event. Visual stories usually focus on people who were directly involved in events, which helps people understand the bigger picture. However, it is important to keep the story simple enough not to make it seem like a textbook.
The role of historical exhibits in the transmission of historical knowledge is critical. They often involve diverse audiences, including children and family groups. In some cases, they may serve as memorials of historical tragedies. These exhibits also contain an interpretive element, as the selection of each exhibit is based on the curator’s judgment about how to present the information. It is critical that museum administrators support the curators in their efforts to present the truth of history, even when the content is controversial.
Recent social and economic trends have resulted in an increased number of historical exhibits in the United States. Increased marketability of local heritage and the national dialogue on identity have contributed to the growth of this form of presentation. In addition to museums, traveling exhibits have become a common form of presentation. Moreover, public exhibits in courthouses are another option for viewing historical exhibits. The Concord courthouse has an exhibit at 55 Pleasant Street, which is open to the public during court hours. Additionally, there is a conference room available for public use when the courthouse is not in session.
Another way to explore history without stepping foot in an exhibition is by using a museum’s website. The website’s interactive features encourage visitors to explore history in a new way. Visitors can jump from a handscroll to a jade plaque by tracing connections through time and space. The interactive interface incorporates audio elements, allowing visitors to take a self-guided tour of material culture.