Post written by Chris Brusatte, Exhibit Manager at Go For Broke National Education Center
I remember when I was in high school and college, this was the question that would always pop into my mind. I loved history, but I always found myself bored to tears at history museums. I felt that it was always the same boring labels, the same plastic dioramas, and the same lack of any relevance at all to my own life. Why should I care about black and white photos, arcane details, and impersonal objects that I couldn’t touch?
Well, we’re not going to make those same mistakes when our new exhibition opens next spring in downtown Los Angeles. We’ll tell the history of the Japanese American soldiers of WWII, but we’ll do so in an engaging and dynamic way. Most important of all, we will make the experience relevant to our visitors. Most of our visitors will be high school and college students, and they’ve helped plan the exhibition from day one.
In our exhibition, visitors won’t just read and observe – they’ll do. They will get their hands dirty. They will get their minds churning. THEY will help create the space and the experience…in a sense, visitors will themselves be the “curator” of their visit to our exhibition. They will have a chance to create art. They will have the opportunity to make mini-documentary films. They will get to make choices and live a “life” as if they were filling the shoes of a WWII-era Japanese American youth.
And this immersive and engaging experience will be made possible by our one-of-a-kind collection. Our thousands of oral histories and hundreds of photographs will form the core of every activity and exhibit area. Every single day our archivists are uncovering and preserving new photos and oral histories, and these are the very assets that will make our exhibition so rich.
So, at least in my opinion, we have finally created the type of history exhibition that is not boring or impersonal. Don’t believe me? Come check us out next spring, when we open to the world in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district!