Usually, museum exhibitions are developed behind closed doors–not out of disregard for public input, but because historians tend to triple check information before sharing. And sometimes the exhibition process, although exciting, is messy, with lots of questions, conflicting claims, and few immediate answers. Curators are like history detectives–tracing the stories of objects, hunting down leads, and conducting research that may take months or even years. As the research is developed, exhibitions go through several academic reviews, the show is designed and built, and Voilà!, opened to the public. The system works pretty well, but for American Enterprise, we have decided to take a different approach and “learn in public,” inviting you to take much of the journey with us.
We hope this experiment, made possible by new media, will make the research and exhibition process more open. In the blog posts below (and more to come) you will see our research trips, the books we are reading, and the artifacts and topics we are considering for the show. Over the next few years, you will slowly see the American Enterprise exhibition take shape and learn as we fill in gaps in our historical understanding of America’s business history. There will be monthly updates with interesting insights, new information, and probably some false starts. We hope you will engage and comment. You might offer us an important new artifact, share related personal experiences, suggest a topic we have overlooked, and help us test our ideas by participating in surveys.