Controversy: Pieces You Don't Normally See
An exhibit that generated global news coverage was the Controversy: Pieces You Don't Normally See exhibit. The objects themselves drew attention from the media, as well as the stark presentation of the gallery space, and the minimal interpretation by the museum within the space. The objects spoke for themselves.
Controversy: Pieces You Don't Normally See represents a breakthrough approach for history museums because it lacks the typical interpretations on labels found in most exhibits in history museums. The exhibit includes only five objects: the electric chair, a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood, a human cage, a sheepskin condom, and a thumb mitt. Each object is a part of Ohio’s history. They are displayed in stark spaces with minimal interpretation. The premise is that the objects themselves are neutral. Individuals and society have biases, emotions or prejudices about objects.
Comments heard from visitors in informal exit interviews were things such as "Brilliant.", "Really moving."Media throughout the state covered the exhibit with interviews in publications such as Cincinnati Magazine,Columbus Dispatch, and many others. Global coverage ranged from a radio interview in Ireland to an article inChina Today, a newspaper in China for English-readers.
Exit interviews from people who visited Controversy: Pieces You Don't Normally See
USA Today article on Controversy: Pieces You Don't Normally See
The American Soldier: A Photographic Tribute, From the Civil War to Iraq
(At the Ohio History Center through Dec. 30, 2011)
Anger and frustration, humor and beauty, victory and defeat—this exhibition of dramatic images captures the essence of the American soldier. Beginning with Civil War-era photographer Mathew Brady one of the earliest photographers to capture death on the battlefield, documentation became key to recording the “truth” of what happened as well as a tool for those calling public attention to what happens during and after wars.
“Photography made war immediate, it made it personal, especially as soldiers began to use cameras to record their own experiences,” said Sharon Dean, Director of Museum and Library Services at the Ohio Historical Society. “It was no longer just the fantasy of valor, gallantry and honor propagated by the government. War was and is messy and complicated.”
Award-winning producer and curator Cyma Rubin created the traveling exhibit. Rubin also brought the popular Capture the Moment: Pulitzer Prize Photographs exhibit to the Ohio History Center in 2008. The American Soldier: A Photographic Tribute is sponsored by Business of Entertainment, Inc., EADS North America, Stetson, ArmorSource, Conestoga, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio Magazine and 104.9 The River. There is a catalog for the exhibit that is available in the Ohio History Store in the Ohio History Center. A limited quantity of the volumes has been signed by the author, Cyma Rubin.
A link to a news release on the exhibit, with photos:
Interview with Sharon Dean, director of museum and library services on NBC/4-Columbus, OH about the exhibit:
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Follow the Flag
The stories of Ohioans who carried battle flags onto the battlefields and marched with troops are linked to the flags themselves as symbols of courage, honor and country. The battle flags, the soldiers’ stories, and the routes of the regiments, are all documented and portrayed in the exhibit.
Ten meticulously conserved Civil War battle flags carried by Ohioans are on display. The Follow the Flag exhibit is the largest known display of conserved Civil War battle flags. Through the soldiers’ words and those of family members, visitors learn how the flags were used in battle, what they represented for the soldiers, and how war affected the families of soldiers. Letters and passages from diaries are read aloud and are accessible through an interactive kiosk in the exhibit.
Support for the effort can come from individuals as well as communities. Earlier this summer in Woodsfield, members of the Monroe County Historical Society portrayed citizens of 1861 and marched six miles during a Civil War-era re-enactment. They capped the event with a presentation of a flag to the 25th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The re-enactment and ceremony raised $1,300 toward the Ohio Historical Society’s Save the Flags campaign.
"For local communities to go through this tremendous effort for the benefit of a battle flag shows an unselfish commitment to Ohio’s history," said Mark Holbrook, the Ohio Historical Society Marketing Manager and a re-enactor who participated in the event.
The Follow the Flag exhibit is sponsored by The Columbus Foundation.
Over Here, Over There: Ohioans in Times of War
Over Here, Over There: Ohioans in Times of War, includes an array of historical medical tools, artifacts, and weapons from the Indian Wars to the present as well as familiar items that could have been found in any home in Ohio throughout the years. Exhibits of medals that may have been displayed on a table or tucked into a duffle bag, beg the question of who was the soldier behind this commendation for bravery? "This exhibit tackles hard questions of why we fight, how war forever alters us, and why remembering and sharing our collective history is crucial to preserving history," said Sharon Dean, Director of Museum and Library Services.
This exhibit features hundreds of historical items that are evidence of Ohioans' service in wars from The War of 1812 to World War II. An underlying goal of the design of this exhibit was to bring many objects into the visitors' view. “We have a magnificent collection and only a fraction of the objects in the collection can be shown at any one time. Having all these pieces together helps present elements that suggest the intensity-and others that convey the routine-of daily life during war years," said Dean.
Connecting to Your History
The exhibit that opened July 1 at the Ohio History Center is Connecting to Your History. "It is through the preservation of objects and documents, and connecting memories and stories that people find their place inOhio's history," said Jason Crabill, Curatorial Services Manager. "Connecting to Your History is designed to engage families to think about their own histories, spark a sense of identity and inspire new connections to their past."
The space is organized to provide visitors with a framework for discovering their personal history, while at the same time allowing for self-directed exploration. A large wall-map, for example, encourages visitors to mark with a pin the spots at which they, their parents and grandparents were born.
"One of the strengths of the Connecting to your History exhibit is that it makes genealogy research accessible and fun—and as any of the researchers in our library will tell you—that’s exactly what it is," said Elizabeth Plummer, Research Services Manager.
Physically, the entrance is framed by photographs, documents and objects that represent man-made material culture from Ohio. As the graphics spread upward, they become interspersed with leaves attached to branches of a giant tree. The tree serves as the focal point for the room and the anchor of a Family Tree activity that visitors are encouraged to experience. Connecting to Your History is comprised of four sections:
Visitors are encouraged to continue their explorations beyond the exhibit with additional resources provided by the Ohio Historical Society, including resources at the Society’s Archives/Library, as well as visits to the other sites in the network. They may also preserve their visit to the Ohio History Center by having a photo snapped of their group in an old-fashioned photo booth next to the entrance to the exhibit.