Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Nothing to See Here

No post this week or next, due to the holidays. Be back soon!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Black Atlantic

I just finished writing a historiographical paper on the "Black Atlantic," a.k.a. the community of Africans who traveled throughout the Atlantic world in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. These men and women were sailors, slaves, abolitionists, writers, and others. Their contributions to the economic, sociopolitical, and intellectual world of the Atlantic have become the focus of the recent work of historians.

The idea of the Black Atlantic has also inspired artists, as I found out in my research. Here is an exhibition review from 2005 that looked at a "Black Atlantic" themed art exhibit (from whence came the above image). The exhibit was held at the Haus der Kulkturen der Welt (House of World Cultures) in Berlin. It's an interesting look at how four German artists used the framing device of the Black Atlantic and interpreted it in new ways.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Local Focus

Last week, I promised to focus on smaller museums after writing a bit about the re-opening of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. So, to that end, I decided to write a bit about my new hometown, Portsmouth.

Portsmouth is a city with a fascinating history & there are many organizations in town to tell that history. Here are the results of a Google search for "portsmouth nh museums." In some ways, the fact that there are so many museums & historical organizations in town can be tricky. All of these institutions rely on the same population for membership & fund-raising, for example.

However, in many ways, the benefits of the diversity and wealth of historical organizations in this city outweigh the downsides. For example, staff at many of the organizations are planning a city-wide exhibit on textiles for 2009. This collaborative effort will make it possible for some of the best pieces throughout the city to be displayed. More importantly, the educational and programming supplements to the physical exhibits will showcase some of the interesting research that is being done in Portsmouth.

From a more practical perspective, the cross-marketing of the year-long event will benefit all of the organizations involved, from the smallest historic house museum to the largest institutions. If you work for a smaller museum in a city rich with other historical institutions (I'm thinking of places like Salem, Gloucester, Portland, Providence, etc.), it's worth looking into the possibilities opened up by collaborative work. And be sure to come to Portsmouth to check out the upcoming "NeedleArts" exhibits and let us know what you think!