Once in awhile - sometimes a very long while - we see signs of success. We find little bits of evidence that what we do as museum workers might really make a difference.
One such little bit of evidence recently turned up on a low-tech interactive component in our current exhibition A Yemeni Community: Photographs from the 1970s by Milton Rogovin
. This is a warm and rich collection of black and white images that documents life in an immigrant community in Lackawanna, New York. Milton Rogovin strategically omits the use of titles for his photographs of "the forgotten ones" to prod the viewer to look more carefully and reflect on their content of the pictures. So, we have included a panel in our exhibit that invites our visitors to write their own titles or captions for some of the images.
Kids (and adults) continue to stick their notes on our interactive wall (we are saving all of them). Of course, some make no sense (to us), but many have brief personal reflect
ions and comments that indicate our visitors are really connecting with the exhibit. One of these notes is shown here. It says "I've never seen a culture before." I believe this to be a marvelous bit of evidence that we may have had a profound impact on one our young visitors - perhaps for the first time he or she became aware of something we too often take for granted, our "culture" and all that potent little word stands for. If this is so, our visitor has made a giant leap toward understanding his or her world.
Of course, this is just a beginning, and we have much more work to do. But it made my day when I saw that little note!