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Curating America

Journeys through Storyscapes of the American Past

Richard Rabinowitz

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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Geschichte


How do history museums and historic sites tell the richly diverse stories of the American people? What fascinates us most about American history? To help answer these questions, noted public historian Richard Rabinowitz examines the evolution of public history over the last half-century and highlights the new ways we have come to engage with our past. At the heart of this endeavor is what Rabinowitz calls "storyscapes--landscapes of engagement where individuals actively encounter stories of past lives. As storyscapes, museums become processes of narrative interplay rather than moribund storage bins of strange relics. Storyscapes bring to life even the most obscure people--making their skills of hands and minds "touchable," making their voices heard despite their absence from traditional archives, and making the dilemmas and triumphs of their lives accessible to us today.

Rabinowitz's wealth of professional experience--creating over 500 history museums, exhibitions, and educational programs across the nation--shapes and informs the narrative. By weaving insights from learning theory, anthropology and geography, politics and finance, collections and preservation policy, and interpretive media, Rabinowitz reveals how the nation's best museums and historic sites allow visitors to confront their sense of time and place, memories of family and community, and definitions of self and the world while expanding their idea of where they stand in the flow of history.

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Richard Rabinowitz



interpretive design, American history, everyone's history, exhibitions, historic preservation, collaborative work, "what is real? what is authentic?", Public history, noumenal experience, space and place, situated learning, living history, interpreting slavery in museums, informal learning, family history, placemaking, memory and history, embodied cognition, pedagogy, urban revitalization, museum collections, dark history, materiality in history, material culture, interactive exhibitions, learning organizations, breaking the silences of the past, Holocaust museums, alternative careers for historians, history of the senses, constructivist learning, the new social history, new history museums, face-to-face with the American past, everyday life, hands-on learning, landscape history