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Defining Memory: Local Museums and the Construction of by Amy K. Levin, David Kyvig

By Amy K. Levin, David Kyvig

Publish yr note: First released in December twenty eighth 2006

Defining Memory makes use of case reports of shows from round the nation to check how neighborhood museums, outlined as museums whose collections are neighborhood in scope or whose audiences are essentially neighborhood, have either formed and been formed by means of evolving group values and experience of background. Levin and her participants argue that those small associations play a key function in defining America's self-identity and will be studied as heavily as extra nationwide associations just like the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of artwork.

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Extra info for Defining Memory: Local Museums and the Construction of History in America's Changing Communities

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Its pedagogical content was designed to educate visitors about the importance of capitalism, so its values were explicit. Of the three institutions discussed in this chapter, this museum was perhaps most appropriate to its setting in the heart of Manhattan’s finance district. While the financial history museum glorified an elite group, with special exhibits on such characters as J. P. S. history. S. Customs House. Now, the building is important because it participates in a shift away from commercial ventures toward valuing the creations of Native Americans for their aesthetic qualities.

These messages were conveyed effectively because the museum used many of the pedagogical strategies outlined by Elizabeth Vallance in the first chapter of this work. But the focus of my piece is on how business and individual sponsorships of the New York institution raised questions that might have countered or clouded the didactic message about crime. In the end, what the museum might have displayed best was the inextricability of social and political power from police presence. The American Museum of Financial History, too, was very much about business and power prior to 9/11.

City Museum is characterized by the author as a “funhouse of industrial proportions” instead of as an entirely se- WHY LOCAL MUSEUMS MATTER 23 rious historical gallery organized by topic or chronology. Sandweiss traces the roots of this institution to the early museums of the American republic, designed to entertain and instruct. Yet while the entertainment in an exhibit such as the one on voting at the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge might come from innovative technology, here the humor arises from the oddness of many of the objects (for instance, the world’s largest pair of underpants); the idiosyncratic nature of many of the labels; the mixture of architectural and industrial salvage; objects recycled into “art”; and temporary exhibits on subjects ranging from architect Louis Sullivan to the humble corn dog.

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