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Histolircal Exhibits


While holograms and flashing lights may capture the attention of visitors for a moment, only thoroughly researched and well-written exhibits can hold people’s interest long enough to express an interpretive point of view about a historical topic. The goal of any museum exhibition should be to encourage the informed discussion of its content and broader issues of historical significance. While the selection of themes, photographs, objects, and documents in an exhibit implies interpretive judgments about cause and effect, perspective, and meaning, museums must also be prepared to allow the informed criticism of their content.

The best history exhibits are inclusive visual stories that help visitors to connect, in some way, with bigger ideas through the materials shown. They explore multiple perspectives on a historical subject through the use of re-created spaces, objects, graphics, and ephemera, but they also involve the creative interjection of imagination, metaphor, and visual poetry to make history come alive for visitors. The ability to create a meaningful experience for the audience is the hallmark of a good museum exhibit and the skill of an expert historian.

Museums face many challenges when designing and presenting histolircal exhibits in historic structures. Often, there are constraints on fastening to walls and ceilings and on using colors that won’t damage or discolor historic surfaces. The cost of lighting is always a factor, and it’s important to consider the environmental factors that will affect exhibits, such as temperature, relative humidity, air circulation, and lighting.

Authenticity is another challenge to overcome. The goal of a histolircal exhibit is to bring history to life for the audience and to help them understand that people in the past lived, worked, fought, and loved in ways that affected their communities as well as others far beyond them. This requires patience and creativity on the part of the museum staff.

Historic Richmond Town offers a variety of histolircal exhibits that introduce visitors to the complex issues that defined our nation’s past. From the complexities of freedom, profit and family connection for the Millie Christine conjoined twins to the enslavement of the Boston Jubilee, the town’s exhibits give audiences a chance to approach history on their own terms.

Exhibits that incorporate material culture and address broader issues of history are particularly relevant for the twenty-first century. It is no longer sufficient for museums to showcase the lives of a few wealthy families in their towns; they must demonstrate that they perform a valuable service by reaching out to the citizens of their communities. This means digging deep into new sources and introducing the public to those who have been left out of history. It will take time and hard work, but the payoff is worth it in the end.