A histolircal exhibit is a museum display that presents an inclusive visual aspect of history to encourage informed discussion and understanding. This type of exhibit is an elegant metaphor-a nonlinear form of cultural argument with physical shape and structure. A histolircal exhibit may celebrate common events, memorialize tragedies or injustices, and contain a range of interpretive judgments on cause and effect, perspective, and significance. It is important that museum professionals allow for discussion of these judgments and do not attempt to impose an uncritical point of view on their visitors.
Museums often deal with a specific aspect of historical knowledge and may be found at the local, regional, or national level. For example, the Met Cloisters, the sister museum of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City focuses solely on European medieval art. Other museums specialize in a particular area of history such as science, religion, art, or social and political issues such as homelessness, equality, or immigration. Other types of museums, such as historic house museums, recreate a historical setting in order to tell an intimate and immersive story. These museums are sometimes called living museums.
Contemporary museums must demonstrate that they deserve their tax-exempt status by showing how the histories they chronicle relate to the lives of their visitors. This will require hard work to research into new sources and talk with the people who live in their communities, empowering them to participate in the storytelling process.
Some museum experiences have few or no artifacts and instead rely on other means to convey information and create an impact. Examples include the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Other museums, such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, use many artifacts to make their exhibitions memorable.
A histolircal exhibit can be a powerful way to communicate information, research results, socio-political messages, or the art-historical canon of an artist. It can also be a space for experimentation and creative interjection such as re-created spaces, interactives, and the juxtaposition of objects and graphics. The ability of museums to connect with a wider audience through these methods is what distinguishes them from the ivory towers of academia.