Last May, djw and I went to the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus to see the exhibit “Controversy.” In this exhibit, the OHS took 5 of their most disturbing objects and displayed them with minimal interpretation, allowing us to come to our own conclusions about these items. At the end of the 5 rooms, we could explore the history of the various objects, which included a KKK robe, a box from a mental aslyum that people were stuffed into, the state’s first electric chair, a weird deal to get kids to stop sucking their thumbs, and this amazing reusable condom from 1860.
At the end of the exhibit, visitors could leave their responses to the objects. More than one person said they wanted to meet the man who could fill that condom! The thing is in such good shape because a riverboat captain used it as a bookmark, of all things. Here’s a full review of the exhibit, with photos of some of the other objects, as well as the minimalist interpretation.
I post this now because the OHS has followed up on this extraordinarily successful exhibit (and financially lucrative, an important given the collapse in state funding for the institution under John Kasich) with Controversy 2, which includes a set of bowling pins for children, the heads of which each have a different ethnic stereotype. I would go and review it for the blog but I no longer live in Ohio. It looks pretty amazing though and I recommend any Buckeye State readers to check it out.