Not Just History

Like most people who have posted about Mining the Museum, I was very excited and interested in Fred Wilson’s project. I especially liked it in comparison to projects like Erin’s Philadelphia History Truck, which was also on the line between history and artistic expression. As all the articles noted, Fred Wilson’s exhibit was at the Contemporary museum, and even though its artifacts are largely historical, the project was as much an art installation as it was a history exhibit. As Lisa Corrin describes, the Contemporary’s mission is to “explore the connections between the art of our time and the world we live in” (302). Even though the exhibit is about history, it’s also about the present, and its analysis rejects a historical timeline in favor of a larger series of themes that often transcend usual categories.

 Corrin also describes how “the exhibition was designed to address problems we felt were of concern to many museums, regardless of their discipline” (303). I loved this sentiment, because I felt like it broke down many of the barriers usually constructed between art and history. In the end, Mining the Museum is a commentary about museums and society more broadly, and can incorporate ideas and problems from a wide variety of disciplines. Even the questions asked of visitors (What do you see? What do you think?, etc.) apply beyond just history. Although we’re in a History class, I think it’s really valuable to think about the ways that this exhibit resists being confined to just that one discipline and just one way of thinking about the past and the present.

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