Monday, September 22, 2008

Making a Museum

Thanks to everyone for making our online discussion of Linenthal’s Preserving Memory so interesting and productive. It appears that most everyone had their bubble burst on the process of creating a museum. While everyone recognized the stresses involved, I think it is also important to recognize the sense of accomplishment the makers of this institution felt at its dedication. The blogs also made some nice connections to the first set of readings that focused on theory and methods, in particular sharing authority and inquiry.

I want to give you some comments for further analysis. In what ways does Linenthal place the discussions about the U.S. Holocaust Museum within a larger context of museumology. Is he describing any universal issues for those working in museums? Are museums always political? Are they always about celebrating achievements? What is unusual about this story, or really any story about the making of a museum?

That being said I think it is important to remember when discussing the politics of inclusion or exclusion that the commission was influenced by the politics of the 1970s and 1980s. The politics of forgetting and denial impact Jewish sentiment to maintain a strict boundary even when it might not sit well with historical analysis about other groups targeted by Hitler. Some of the comments on the blogs reminded me of Dubin’s point about generational conflict. Those of us born post-baby boom see things very differently then our predecessors. In addition, I would like for us as a class to tackle the issue of “American memory.” What is Linenthal’s argument about plurality as it applies to the conceptualization and construction of this museum.

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