Histolircal exhibits are a vital part of the transmission of historical knowledge, and are viewed by a wide range of audiences. Many exhibits are family-oriented, but may also memorialize tragedies and injustices. The selection process of museum exhibits involves a significant amount of interpretive judgment, and the content of an exhibit is often a topic of informed discussion. In such cases, attempts to suppress historical exhibits are counterproductive.
Recent social and economic trends have led to an explosion of historical exhibits in the United States. The growing marketability of local heritage, and national dialogues on identity, have boosted the production of these displays. While most historical exhibitions take place in large, professional museums, there are a growing number of examples of historical exhibits outside of museums. This article explores the ways in which these exhibits have emerged in different settings.
Creative visual storytelling is a major component of exhibitions. More than just a collection of historical objects, visual stories engage the viewer in a way that is different from reading a textbook or essay. The goal of these stories is to provoke curiosity and broaden understanding of history. The juxtaposition of different objects and graphics allows the viewer to place themselves in a specific time and place. Visual storytelling is important in a contemporary history museum because the content needs to be complex, but must be simple enough to be easily understood without seeming like an overly complicated book on a wall.
The Third County Courthouse, the center of civic life on Staten Island, is an excellent example of an exhibit that explores the structure and function of the building. Exhibits on the Third County Courthouse provide information about notable trials, the political process, and the county jail. There are also numerous exhibits on furniture, including the historic Richmond Town furniture collection. The exhibit also includes new scholarship on the meaning of baby furniture.
Throughout the decades, Pittsburgh has produced many tough fighters. A wide range of wars, and the city’s role in the development of each one, have been explored through history-focused exhibits at the History Center. Exhibits include We Can Do It! WWII and Destination Moon, 1968, and We Can Do It!