Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Fresh Ideas from 3 Weeks Away


It's been a while since I've blogged. I was away at an incredible seminar in Indianapolis for 3 weeks at the beginning of November (Seminar for Historical Administration). Thought I would share a few photos that highlight some of the things I saw and did.

This first one is from the Indiana State Museum. Indiana is well-known for its limestone and this exhibit shows how limestone was carved into many of the features and monuments found throughout Indiana. I would love to do something similar around sandstone for our area (especially for our Lethbridge 1906-1913 exhibit). As you may be able to see this part of the exhibit has a window directly outside where you can see real examples of limestone.

I took this next one from a hot air balloon at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park. It's very interesting to see what some sites are doing to add to the visitor experience. This was a fun experience but I found the story of John Conner and his two families incredibly more interesting. One thing we discussed a lot at the seminar was how to keep the "real thing" central to what we do (but also make it fun and different).




This next one is from the Indianapolis Children's Museum. This was a fascinating exhibit called the Power of Children and looked at the lives of Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges and Ryan White. This was one of the best examples I've ever seen for taking incredibly difficult subjects (Holocaust, racism, hatred) and making it understandable and powerful for children. I know this is one thing I struggle with for our education programs -- how to truly represent all of history (the positive and the negative) in a way that gives children a true sense of history and that is also done at their level. I really wish this was a traveling exhibit.

One of the other museums we visited was the Indiana Medical History Museum. This was an intriguing museum set in the old Pathology building. The actual classroom (with original chairs) is still there and much of the material is still in the laboratories from when the building was in use. I could have stayed a lot longer at this museum. But one thing I found rather interesting was that they had on display records from the asylum that you could look through and you could read people's names and what conditions lead to them being committed. One of the things I always question is how much private information can/should a historian reveal about a person even when that person is dead? Just because you know something, should you be able to use it for writing history?

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