"Off the Wall" is designed as a place for those with an interest in public history to expand (or perhaps to explode) our understanding of what constitutes a historical exhibit, and to work on developing a set of conventions for critically evaluating a wider range of history exhibit practice than is currently reviewed in public historians' various disciplinary and professional forums.
We’re living in an era of digitized memory. Push-button publishing. Place-branding. Increasingly blurred lines among education, design, collection, advertising, activism, memorialization, and art. What does public historical display look like in this kind of culture? Who is making history exhibits, how, and why? Where are the new edges of how history is being created and presented in public? Where are the new edges of “publicness”? Another way to say this is that this blog is a place to review things that people might not immediately think of as a history exhibit, but which on second thought seem to speak to history exhibit practice in a potentially interesting way.
We hope that “Off the Wall” will bring an informed, critical eye to a wide range of types of public display involving history, and that it will enlarge the conversation about what a history exhibit is, what it might be, and how historians per se can participate most productively in all of that.