Analyzing The Success And Failures Of Prior Museum Interpretation

1994 Words8 Pages
Interpreting historical events is a difficult but necessary part of designing an artifact based exhibit. Opinions can be presented as fact, sentimental perceptions can skew objectivity and politics may influence the presentation. The exhibit objectives must be based on a balanced neutral assessment and allow visitors to develop their own opinion. Analyzing the success and failures of prior museum interpretation can give guidance for creating successful future exhibits. Reviewing the controversy surrounding the proposed 1995 exhibit The Crossroads: The End of World War II, the Atomic Bomb and the Cold War, at the Smithsonian Institution leads to some possible solutions that could have reduced or perhaps solved the controversy. The central artifact of The Crossroads exhibit was to be a restored B-29 airplane named the Enola Gay. This plane had dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945.1 After the bombing, Japan surrendered and the war ended. The commonly held belief was that the bombing was a necessary strategic military action that prompted the end of the war and saved further casualties. Developing scholarship on the subject however, proposed that alternative tactics could have been pursued and questioned the morality of it all.2 The complete story to be told included the planes physical existence as well as the social and political aspects surrounding it.3 Conflicting ideologies between accepted accounts of history and proposed

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