Reviewing Historical Exhibits

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Reviewing historical exhibits requires a specialized knowledge in the subject matter. Fortunately, the Public Historian provides a wealth of resources for this purpose. Reviewers should consider the intended audience, exhibit setting and presentation, and the effectiveness of experimental interpretive techniques used to enhance the exhibition. In addition, reviewers should consider the role of historians when reviewing the exhibit. They can find out more about specific exhibits by reading The Public Historian’s articles and reviews.

Considering how audiences respond to historical exhibitions is essential. In a recent article by curator and historian Fath Davis Ruffins, she discusses the importance of an exhibition as a form. It should have an aesthetic form, reflect the history of its time, and be a metaphor. Good exhibitions should include both points of view. In addition to addressing the perspectives of history buffs, museums should consider the viewpoints of all visitors.

Library history exhibits can range from in-house efforts to state-wide and national exhibits. Exhibits can be traveling, digital, or associated with a particular event. Libraries can even have special exhibits devoted to their own collections or the history of the institution they serve. In any case, a library history exhibit is a great way to showcase the history of the library. In addition to historical artifacts, libraries can display photographs and archival items that tell a story about their history.

A groundbreaking exhibition about the contributions of Blacks to Indiana’s history is another must-see exhibit. This project combines a collection of rare items from the Washington State Historical Society’s archives with contemporary artwork. The work includes film, interactives, and art installations. Other highlights of this exhibit include comparisons between Green-Book sites from the past and present and a rare example of a Green-Book. This exhibit requires approximately 200 square feet of floor space.

For those who are interested in the history of Wheaton, the DuPage County Historical Museum is a must-see. Open Tuesday through Friday, the museum is open to the public for a small donation. The museum is open for tours and exhibits at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum also offers a free admission, but donations are suggested. For children, suggested donations are $2.

A retrospective of World War II can take a day, or a week. The exhibit, titled Together We Win: The DuPage Story of World War II, will take visitors through the lives of DuPage County residents who contributed to the war effort both overseas and at home. While some aspects of the war were controversial and helped shape the rest of the 20th century, the exhibit will explore the impact of the conflict on the region and the nation.