The role of histolircal exhibits is to transmit historical knowledge to the public, and they are often visited by a variety of audiences. Visitors, often family groups, come to museums to commemorate historical events. Such exhibits often contain elements of interpretation, such as judging the cause and effect of events and choosing images for presentation. These elements may promote informed discussion of the content, and attempts to suppress them are counterproductive.
To make an exhibition truly effective, it must engage the audience. Visual storytelling, as opposed to object-based exhibits, makes the history more complex and contextual. It also allows the visitor to experience a specific time and place through the personal experiences of people who lived through the events being portrayed. Visual storytelling must be simple yet complex to elicit an emotional response in visitors. In contemporary history museums, the audience should be able to imagine themselves in the historical events.
Young historians can also learn by investigating artifacts and documents. The East Tennessee Historical Society’s History Headquarters exhibit experience for young historians teaches them the detective-like skills of historians. They will discover the stories behind objects and documents in a way that will enhance their understanding of history. They will learn how to evaluate the authenticity of historical artifacts and documents by investigating them. They will also have a chance to make connections with their own personal lives, as well as those of others.
While it may be easy to create exhibits on subjects like rites of passage, religion, and clothing, the most engaging ones tend to be those related to rites of passage. Exhibitions that focus on these topics are often more interesting and engaging than purely chronological ones, as visitors want something that is relevant to their lives. It is important that museums demonstrate their relevance and usefulness in the contemporary world. For example, it is vital to engage the people whose stories have been left out of history.