The Past in the Present: How Museums Interpret History
The Ninth Annual Deerfield-Wellesley Symposium in American Culture
The ninth Deerfield/Wellesley Symposium on American Culture will explore topics related to how museums and the academy represent history to the public, including: the state of museums in the post-modern landscape, public history and the representation of cultural memory, the history of museum interpretation, the ways museums and historians create enduring images of national identity, and the relationship between museums and the new social history. The symposium will also explore the how academics have examined museums, and shaped the representation of history, as well as the many strategies museums are adopting to remain viable in the current cultural landscape.
There is a growing literature that looks at the way anthropologists, historians, and museum professionals represent the past (our own and others). As traditional arbiters of culture and history, museums have come under attack for the images of the past they create, and the many segments of history they leave out. Museums have responded by adopting new educational theories, undertaking research, seeking new ways to learn about their audiences, and sharing authority with the communities they serve. This conference will examine challenges and criticisms facing museums in this cultural climate.
A symposium sponsored by Historic Deerfield, Inc. and The Grace Slack McNeil Program in the History of American Art, Wellesley College.
Held at the White Church Community Center, Deerfield, Massachusetts
November 1-2, 2002
Symposium fee: $70 for regular admission/$25 for students/$50 for seniors over 65 and members of Historic Deerfield, Inc.
Friday, November 1
Session I: The Context, Historical Background, and the Representation of History and the modern world in the 19th and early 20th centuries
Chair: James F. O’Gorman, Grace Slack McNeil Professor of the History of American Art, Wellesley College.
Donald R. Friary, Executive Director, Historic Deerfield, Inc.
9:45 Charlene Mires, Assistant Professor of History, Villanova University
“The National Museum in Philadelphia: A View of the Nation in 1876”
10:15 Briann Greenfield, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Central Connecticut State University
“Highboys and High Culture: Henry Flynt and the Production of an American Aesthetic in Deerfield, Massachusetts.”
11:00 Mardges Bacon, Professor of Art and Architecture, Northeastern University
“Modernism and Vernacular at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.”
11:30 Kym Rice, Assistant Director, Museum Studies Program, The George Washington University and Linda Rowe, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
“Expanding the Mission: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s Community
Session II: Issues in Representation and Misrepresentation: Sites of Conscience and Civic Engagement
Chair: Jessica L. Neuwirth, Director of Academic Programs, Historic Deerfield
2:00 Russell Handsman, Senior Developer and Dolores Root, Director of Exhibits and Programs, The EcoTarium: A Center for Environmental Exploration.
“Four New England Natural History Museums.”
2:30 Michael A. Lord, Associate Director of Reinterpretation for Historic Hudson Valley
“Busting Myths and Finding Relevance: Interpreting Slavery in the Colonial North at Philipsburg Manor, Upper Mills.”
3:30 David Mickenberg, Ruth Gordon Shapiro '37 Director, the Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College.
"The Taboo of Tragedy: Complexity and Contradiction in Presenting Art about the
Holocaust in Museum Spaces."
4:00 Jill Ogline, Department of History, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
“Museums as Sites of Conscience and Civic Engagement.”
Dinner on your own at the Deerfield Inn or elsewhere in the area.
Saturday, November 2
Session I: Case Study, “Making it Real”: Bridging the Gap Between Historic and Working Farm Landscapes in New England.
This session focuses on the challenge of teaching the non-farming public to understand the history of farm landscapes, and to apply that understanding in public planning for the future of those landscapes. Presentations will place that challenge in the wider context of concrete examples and current ideas from public, social, and environmental history.
Chair: Marla Miller, Professor of History, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
9:30 “"Farm" Is a Verb: Interpreting Change in New England's Working Landscapes”
Alice E. Ingerson, Consultant/Applied History for Land Conservation & Urban
10:00 “Marketing Milk in New England, Past and Present”
Tracey DeJong, Curator, Wenham Museum
10:30 Break. James F. O’Gorman, Grace Slack McNeil Professor of the History of American Art, Wellesley College will sign copies of his new book Tobacco Barns in the Connecticut River Valley in the White Church.
11:00 Bob Cottrell, Director, Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm
“Tamworth, New Hampshire, Past, Present and Future: A Case Study of a Historical Working Landscape.”
11:30 Mary Fuhrer, Historian, Fruitlands Museums
“Uncovering a Farmstead - Recovering Fruitlands Museum's Willard Farm Site.”
12:30 Lunch on your own
Session II: “Making it Real” continued:
2:00 Brian Donahue, Assistant Professor of American Environmental Studies, Brandeis University
“To Preserve or to Renew? Connecting with Working Landscapes in the Suburbs.”
2:30 Robert Rakoff, Professor of Politics and Environmental Studies, Hampshire College “Teaching Farm History to Non-Farmers.”
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