To the left, to the left…

Timothy Luke’s book, Museum Politics, intellectually pushed me this week. Despite having a love for museums and attending them across the US and Europe, I never thought or viewed them through a political ideological lens. While Luke’s stylistic approach was rather combative, he brings up relevant questions and issues in regards to museums, culture representation and history.

The two readings that resonated with me were chapter one, “Politics at the Exhibition” and chapter two, “Nuclear Reactions.” These chapters prompted me to ponder how one could successfully balance a national narrative of celebration with a new social history methodology that brings forth untold or formerly unwanted stories. Luke provided ample examples of where exhibitions were unsuccessful at this bridging, but I wonder if there are instances where this was successfully done. And if so, what were their strategies or techniques? More than anything these readings encouraged me to think about what kind of methods have previously been employed and what can be learned from them. It seems more than anything both sides of the cultural spectrum need to be open to opposing interpretations, and energy should be put forth toward solving the problem, not running farther to the left or the right.

A side thought of mine this week was about history in our public school education. Chapters one and two made think about whether or not our education system is facilitating a variety of historical perspectives, e.g. Japanese WWII perspective. Surely introduction of historical diversity would foster the ability to cognitively understand the importance of coupling celebrative and realist perspectives. Wishful thinking, perhaps.


2 thoughts on “To the left, to the left…”

  1. There are ways of showing both sides of the story, it’s something that curators do very often when it comes to the Civil War. I agree with you– it would have been great if Luke had looked at exhibits that could have been hot-topics but were successfully done. Maybe showing that there can be a more balanced approach would have hurt his overall argument though…?

  2. Yes, great post and comment. I would have appreciated examples of exhibits that had taken a balanced approach, and what their successes and failures looked like.

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