As we here in Potterville pull on our boots and get ready for the big rodeo and “western celebration” coming to town, I’m happy to report that a few of you are getting out of your towns to attend conferences and conduct some research. Here are some interesting museums featured on a few blogs I read regularly:
- Anxious Black Woman is just back from the National Women’s Studies Association annual meeting in Cincinnati, and gives us a great report on the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a new museum there. I’m particularly grateful for her review, because Historiann lived in southwestern Ohio when this museum was being planned a decade ago, and she was a little skeptical of the concept. (White people in and around Cincinnati are really into the Underground Railroad, and every little town has at least two or three mythological sites or houses that people commemorate as alleged stops on the UGRR. Historiann was always suspicious that this was a means for white people to re-write the history of slavery and to cast their ancestors in heroic roles as slavery resisters, rather than in the much more likely role of slavery enablers, especially because African Americans were enslaved in southwestern Ohio, contrary to the provisions of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. I lived in a town near the Ohio-Indiana border I’ll call “Boxford,” which likes to pretend that its proximity to the authentic Quaker town of Richmond, Indiana somehow retroactively turns all nineteenth-century Boxfordians into abolitionists.) ABW’s verdict on the museum? Disappointing in its interest more in masters than enslaved people and in its erasure of women, although the introductory movie was good. (But go read her more thorough treatment yourself!) The good news is that the NWSA itself was a great experience–I’m envious that I wasn’t there!
- If your summer travel plans take you to Cincinnati, the Cincinnati area has all kinds of new museums–for example, the Creation Museum of Hebron, Kentucky, just a few exits down the road from the Cincinnati airport, is another museum that was just under construction when Historiann lived nearby. It’s a creationist extravaganza of imaginary natural history–tell them Bing McGhandi sent you! Here’s a reality-based review of the CM.
- Professor Zero is in Lima (Peru, not Ohio!), and went to the Museo de Pedro Osma, which sounds like an interesting palace filled with colonial as well as twentieth-century art.
- Do any of you have recommendations for interesting fine arts, history, or other museums in your home towns (or that you’ve encountered on your travels) for summer vacationers?
- Finally, for those of you in the academy who are public historians, or work with public historians, what’s your sense of public history’s relationship to non-public history (frequently referred to somewhat condescendingly as “academic history,” as though public history is an inferior intellectual pursuit)? My sense is that there used to be more conflict or resentment among “academic” historians, but that these distinctions (well, snobberies, actually) are fading. Is Historiann (who is not a public Historiann) overly optimistic?