Triumphant returns

Posted on July 21, 2014 under museums

One of the sharpest museum blogs is back! (Perhaps one day I will also be back.)

“the emphatic lives of the long dead”

Posted on July 14, 2014 under public history

But for lovers or friends with no past in common the historic past unrolls like a park, like a ridgy landscape full of buildings and people.  To talk of books is, for oppressed shut-in lovers, no way out of themselves; what was written is either dull or too near the heart.  But to walk into […]

Sustainable Practices for Co-Created Exhibits

Posted on March 18, 2014 under museums, public history, Uncategorized

Come to our NCPH session, this Thursday morning at 8:30 as part of the NCPH annual meeting in sunny, convenient Monterey. How can co-created projects become a sustainable part of our work?  This roundtable includes participants who have facilitated recurring co-created exhibits and other projects involving museums, community organizations, students, artists, and other diverse partners. […]

Why we do research

Posted on February 5, 2014 under historiography | 1 Comment

Reading this scholarly book, I came upon this wonderfully forthright explanation of historical curiosity:  “The primary purpose of this monograph is to answer the question, “Man, what’s up with that?””

Happy new year and elections

Posted on January 2, 2014 under me

I hope your 2014  is full of museumgoing and critical reflection on history! In the new year, may I suggest that the NCPH members among my readers vote in the NCPH board elections?  You should have received an email in December with voting information.  The election closes on Jan 5 and I am running for […]

“Nostalgia erases the actual experiences”

Posted on December 3, 2013 under nostalgia

It’s important for me to challenge this nostalgic vision of the past, particularly of the early 90s. So many queers now have this nostalgia for something they never experienced. In the early 90s, everyone was dying from AIDS, and drug addiction, and suicide. I came of age watching a generation of people losing all their […]

Book Review: Who Owns America’s Past?

Posted on December 2, 2013 under history of technology, museums

Robert C. Post, Who Own’s America’s Past? The Smithsonian and the Problem of History.  Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013. Bob Post’s new book is a hybrid account—it covers both the history of cultural history at the Smithsonian and Post’s own career as a curator.  He traces the usual story of how Joseph Henry didn’t want to […]


Posted on September 18, 2013 under Uncategorized

I’ll be at AASLH in Birmingham this week, talking about history practice with the biggest gathering of small history museum professionals there is. I’m giving a talk Thursday at 1:30 pm: Vintage or Artifact? Collecting the 20th and 21st Centuries At what point do we consider an object old enough to be an artifact? Must an […]

What World’s Fairs Were Like

Posted on September 6, 2013 under museums

I’m working on an exhibit about the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, the World’s Fair in San Francisco in 1915, and I’ve been struggling to communicate what, experientially, it was like to be in the crowd at an early 20th century Fair.  Some of my best attempts: They were like the State Fair, but with better architecture. […]

That weekend

Posted on March 14, 2013 under me, minnesota

The  third weekend in April continues to be excessively popular for conferences in our (dear museum/history-inclined reader!) fields, which this year includes Museums and the Web and NCPH (which looks like a terrific meeting in Ottawa this year.) I will be attending neither of these, but will instead be attending this conference in Minneapolis, “Practicing Science, Engaging […]