Exhibiting Dilemmas: Issues of Representation at the Smithsonian / Edition 1

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In twelve essays on such diverse Smithsonian Institution holdings as the Hope Diamond, the Wright Flyer, wooden Zuni carvings, and the Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth lunch counter that became a symbol of the Civil Rights movement, Exhibiting Dilemmas explores a wide range of social, political, and ethical questions faced by museum curators in their roles as custodians of culture.

Focusing on the challenges posed by the transformation of exhibitions from object-driven “cabinets of curiosities” to idea-driven sources of education and entertainment, the contributors—all Smithsonian staff members—provide a lively and sometimes provocative discussion of the increasingly complex enterprise of acquiring and displaying objects in a museum setting.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This book is a courageous and candid affirmation of the educational and interpretive responsibilities of history museums. . . . The authors provide eloquent recognition of the need to negotiate a popular yet thoroughly professional path between history and memory, celebration, and commemoration.”—Michael Kammen, Cornell University

“A cultural benchmark. . . . Each [contributor] faces the challenge of bringing an institution founded on the Eurocentric values and colonialist viewpoints of the nineteenth century into line with the values and perspectives of our present multicultural society.”—Kansas City Star

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560984443
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Henderson, a cultural historian at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, is the author of On the Air: Pioneers of American Broadcasting and coauthor of Red, Hot, & Blue: A Smithsonian Salute to the American Musical.

Adrienne L. Kaeppler is curator of oceanic ethnology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and the author, most recently, of Oceanic Art.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Exhibiting Memories 15
2 For Museum Audiences: The Morning of a New Day? 28
3 The Hope Diamond: Gem, Jewel, and Icon 47
4 Herbert Ward's "Ethnographic Sculptures" of Africans 70
5 Capable of Flight: The Saga of the 1903 Wright Airplane 92
6 Crystal Skulls and Other Problems: Or, "Don't Look It in the Eye" 116
7 Curating the Recent Past: The Woolworth Lunch Counter, Greensboro, North Carolina 143
8 The Unstifled Muse: The "All in the Family" Exhibit and Popular Culture at the National Museum of American History 156
9 Zuni Archangels and Ahayu:da: A Sculpted Chronicle of Power and Identity 176
10 Ambassadors in Sealskins: Exhibiting Eskimos at the Smithsonian 206
11 Curators as Agents of Change: An Insect Zoo for the Nineties 246
12 And Now for Something Completely Different: Reconstructing Duke Ellington's Beggar's Holiday for Presentation in a Museum Setting 262
Contributors 273
Index 277
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