Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Within Our Own Time

This weekend, I came across a link to a group of photographs by Paul Fusco, taken from Robert F. Kennedy's funeral train and now on exhibit at the Danziger Project gallery in New York City. The images are so sunny and beautiful, yet unbelievably sad and full of pain. As I clicked through them, I wondered about all the people in the photographs--did they remember that day? seeing the train, or just the fact that that their mom made them go out and stand by the tracks on a hot day? did it change anyone's life?

In the last decade, we've seen many museums of many sizes take on projects relating to World War II: exhibits on homefront activities have been many. But I can't think of many projects that have really examined the Sixties, in all its messiness. Two exceptions are What's Going On: Newark and the Legacy of the Sixties at the New Jersey Historical Society and the new museum at the site of the Woodstock Festival.

The American view of World War II is a fairly tidy one, but the Vietnam War and the Sixties is not. How do we, as museums, explore topics for which there isn't a consensus? And as I attempt to do oral histories for projects, I'm reminded that the time to collect personal perspectives and objects from that time period is now, not later.

Above: Photo by Paul Fusco from RFK Funeral Train Rediscovered at the Danziger Project.

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