Museum Of American History Essay

1225 WordsDec 10, 20175 Pages
The history of the United States is a history of immigration resulting in a diverse population. How to accurately represent this varied populus has proven troublesome for museums in the past which continues today. Two major exhibitions at the National Museum of American History centered around themes of immigration include Many Voices, One Nation which opened on June 28th of this year and A Nation of Nations which ran from March 12, 1976 to April 30, 1991. The two exhibitions explore how people from all over the world have immigrated to the United States to make this nation their home. In choosing to examine the historiography, exhibition design, and objects on display at A Nation of Nations and Many Voices, One Nation demonstrates the…show more content…
The idea of the bicentennial was for the whole country to look back on the past two hundred years as a nation and commemorate America’s heritage as well as celebrate the changes that occured during that time. A Nation of Nations exhibition closely mirrored one aspect of bicentennial festivities: to “highlight the diversity of immigrant experiences in America and emphasize the ways in which immigrant groups merged to create a unified national identity” (Burns 113). The bicentennial allowed visitors to feel that identity with others who visited the exhibition. In an article written reviewing the exhibition the summer the show opened to the public, the authors, Rick Beard and Nancy Brennan Beard, assert that A Nation of Nations was successful in entertaining the public, “however, it [was] an unsuccessful educational experience” (1). Visitors were impressed by the wide array of objects displayed, as well as the lights, smells, and sounds produced, but ultimately left without much insight on the overall theme of immigration in the United States. Beard and Beard explain why they felt the exhibition was unsuccessful “relat[ing] both to the physical design and the concepts underlying the exhibit” (1). Visitors entered the exhibition through a darkened tunnel to metaphorically travel back in time to begin the journey of the peopling of the United States. Various times throughout the exhibition visitors find themselves in the
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