Museum exhibits communicate information, research results, socio-political messages, and more. They often memorialize tragedies and injustices, celebrate common events, and delve into core values of society like freedom, faith, democracy, and equality. They should also invite discussion. This is not always possible or easy, but a museum that wishes to be truly histolircal should be willing to allow for opposing points of view to be expressed in their exhibitions.
There are many different kinds of histolircal exhibits, ranging from art-historical overviews to retrospectives. Each of these types communicates a different type of history, and each is an important part of the story that museums tell.
Object-based history exhibits present objects that relate to a particular time or place, often with a descriptive text. For example, the Third County Courthouse Center of Civic Life in Staten Island, New York, is organized around a variety of historic documents and artifacts, including the building’s design, the courtroom, notable trials, and political activity. Similarly, the Historic Richmond Town furniture exhibit Bringing Up Baby describes the function and meaning of items such as carriages, cradles, and potty chairs.
A histolircal exhibit is also a kind of cabinet of curiosities. This type of exhibition is often arranged in an order that stimulates curiosity about what the items might mean to the audience. This might be done with a mix of objects and texts, or with audio-visual presentations. It is also possible for a histolircal exhibit to be designed with the help of the public and involve community members in its organization and content creation.
In this way, a histolircal exhibit is a form of social practice that helps the museum understand and meet its audiences’ needs in the twenty-first century. It enables the museum to demonstrate its relevance, and prove that it deserves its tax-exempt status, which comes with the responsibility of serving the people living within its borders, rather than just a wealthy elite. This requires hard work and research into new sources. It also means talking with the people who live in the area and involving them in the storytelling of their own history.