How we remember the past will be one of the themes of our trip to Gettysburg this spring. The first few days of the trip, we’ll be guided by Gary Gallagher, whose most recent book, Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know about the Civil War, deals with this question directly and has been given to participants. At the close of the trip, we’ll visit the newly remodeled National Museum of American History with its former director, Spencer Crew, to think about how exhibits are prepared.
The NY Times had an interesting review of two current exhibits on John Brown, one in Richmond (the first exhibit in the former capital of the Confederacy ) and the other in New York City (developed by the Gilder Lehrman Institute, our partner for the Gettysburg trip.) One Man’s Crusade Against Slavery, Seen From Two Angles describes how, even today, “Brown’s legacy is nearly as riven now as it was on the eve of the Civil War. His actions still raise unresolved issues about the limits of dissent, the nature of terrorism and the effects of revolutionary violence.” The exhibits, according to the reviewer, reflect deeply rooted contrasting perspectives.