Oh, Museum Politics…

I suppose starting with the obvious first-chapter- Holocaust-issue would be, well, obvoious. However…this was a topic in last semester’s public history undergrad course and it still amazes me; this will never be an issue that is able to be settled. There will always and forever be a “this is the truth and it should be shown side,” and a “why the %$#& are you making this entertaining” side? I, for one, am on the side of truth, and sometimes it just so happens that getting certain audiences to understand it takes certain measures, whether they are playing the role of a victim on a card the are given, or are approached by the image of thousands of shoes in a pile representing the dead. Sometimes the extremist experience is the one that effects people more and teaches them the most.
I only have one brief question about chapter 6 and the American Museum of Natural History. Granted, it was skimmed, however, the idea that the museum is an “essentially uncontested site” (p.101), seems to be founded in the statements following, that it focuses on assuring the patrons of the museum that their “life is as it should be,” “the American way of life.” This being the overarching theme of the museum, the attention gets taken away from the fact that half of the artifacts aren’t even from America, or came from before it was America. So does the name of a museum have an effect on the interpretation? It seems to me that it does.
**It is at this point the girl in the ‘quiet study room’ almost got a lesson in what that actually means, and I attempted to stray away from (accidental) manslaughter. Her teeth hurt…how is that relevant to her study group?**
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a great compliation of different aspects that bring in all different kinds of crowds. Not only their exhibits, but the different kinds of tours they offer are largely attractive qualities of what would initially seem a not-so-exciting scenario.
As a person who tends to lean more toward the side of a more humanitarian museum, as opposed to the nature preservation, I must admit that I was impressed with Luke’s descriptions and the way he analyzed the nature reserves, as it were. However, it seemed at times that he had an aversion to anything human-related, though it is most likely a dislike of the liberal displays of genocide and the the like. He does have a good opinion for all of it, however, and he does know what he is talking about!

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Kate Hall

Born and raised in Boise, love it here. I love travel, history, Star Wars, Lost Boys, Highlander, and Super Nintendo. My favorite shirts say "My Other Ride Has A Flux Capacitor" and "Rock out with your Bach out." Basically, I would technically, I suppose, be classified as a 'nerd,' which I love. I currently intern at City Hall for the Department of Arts and History, mostly doing oral histories, but sometimes I get a cool research project. After I gradute I'll look for a job in History, find something to tide me over until then, and wait until education jobs are better in Idaho. =) Super excited about the chance to create a mobile application, been thinking already...plus I just loooove Leslie's classes (are you reading this?) =) Guess that's all! Perhaps more than you wanted, perhaps less. Perhaps I, myself, am caught betwixt the ideas of the two extremes and have decided to leave it as a cliffhanger of sorts.....

One thought on “Oh, Museum Politics…”

  1. I completely agree with you that Luke seemed to have an aversion form anything human-related! I felt all the chapters, excluding the Holocaust one, presented Luke’s passion for natural museums in opposition to cultural museum. I, like you Kate, am much fonder of cultural study museums. However, Luke did make a very good argument for what natural museums do right. In his argument I thought he illustrated, quite well, how natural museums leave a lot of interpretation to the visitor. (as a side note, I also get extremely annoyed with people in the library who do not understand “quite study area” 😉

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