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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Attention to detail

Without even trying, we have found ourselves visiting numerous museums these first few weeks in California. Whether the Gene Autry Museum with its variety of displays (rock climbing, art galleries, C&W music) or the stark simplicity of the Santa Barbara Mission exhibits, each museum offers something unique and thought-provoking.

Additionally, the curators demonstrate a good eye for making their subject matter relevant. Touch the sequins in the C&W exhibit and lip sync to a young George Jones performance "onstage". Smell the roses in the Mission garden. Test the rockclimbing equipment for yourself. Learn the value of a good telescope for fun and games (as predecessor to more serious pursuits) at Griffith Observatory.

These experiences have made me think about what we want for our Center for White Rose Studies. Of course we wish to make the archival material available to everyone, in its original German as well as in English translation.

But what can we do beyond that to make the story come alive? Just as the Autry people made rockclimbing (something I am NOT interested in) fascinating by permitting visitors to physically feel the equipment, thereby gaining an appreciation for the risks these earthbound explorers undertake, I would like to see our staff make the notions of civil disobedience and informed dissent come alive for students - and "older" students - alike.

Please let us know your thoughts on this topic! We are listening...

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