Monday, September 7, 2009
Topic 2: "Public History"
One of the most controversial questions that can be asked when viewing a historical exhibit of some sort is: 'Is this the truth or a biased point of view?' As controversial as this question can be, and has been, it is still asked and in my opinion must be asked in order to understand how the exhibit is portraying the event or person of subject. One who is creating an exhibit or display of historical significance typically chooses the artifacts and information according to how the public is willing to receive the event. For example as stated in Prof. Jordanova’s essay when creating an exhibit for the anniversary of the end of WWII and the dropping of the Atomic bomb, an exhibit in America would most likely show the success that was achieved in ending the war in the pacific. While an exhibit in Japan or even perhaps on the west coast (an area with a significant Japanese and Asian population) would most likely portray it as an unnecessary gruesome tragedy. While neutrality is seemingly impossible to achieve in many exhibits I believe that a historian needs to approach a display not only through what the immediate possible public wants to see but through both sides. How do all parties involved portray an event? What were some of the events and actions leading up to the featured event?
(Above picture aquired at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/medtour/smithsonian.html)