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Presentation on theme: "Washington D.C. Experience HEATHER BANAS JOSHUA CURZAN CHARLIE VOUSDEN BEN WRY."— Presentation transcript:


2 Our Visits U.S. Capitol International Spy Museum National Museum of African American History and Culture National Museum Of the American Indian The Newseum FBI Museum (no longer does tours)  *Originally slated to visit

3 Our Objective To find resources that will help us explore the idea of government surveillance of dissent groups in the 1960s.

4 Anti-War Groups Civil Rights Leaders & Groups SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) CPUSA (Communist Party of America) The Weather Underground Cesar Chavez and the United Grape Workers Chicano Movement SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Council) SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) Black Panther Party Nation of Islam NOW (National Organization of Women) AIM (American Indian Movement) Dissent Groups We Hoped To Explore:

5 How did our visits enhance our understanding of civil liberties? In most cases, accessible and clear information was not readily available in a casual museum visit. The help we sought from staff members did not meet our particular needs. Most exhibits did not highlight domestic dissenters such as: AIM, Black Panthers, Weathermen, etc.

6 What types of “evidence” did museums provide to support their historical narratives? American achievements were highlighted and presented thoroughly while shortcomings were often barely mentioned.  Some newspapers showing Black Panther & Weathermen arrests  Acknowledgment of the Native American movement  Mention of the mainstream civil rights and women suffrage movements Their mission was to support the majority and the offer a lens into what it means to be an American  Even a museum such as the Native American Museum did not offer any particulars on AIM and dissent among Native American groups

7 Exhibit information from: National Museum Of the American Indian


9 How did museums frame issues of civil liberties? The Spy museum provided specifics on spying and intelligence during the Cold War era (i.e. the Rosenbergs) and allowed visitors to assess the reaction of government officials and civilians to communism in America. However most materials were in relation to deceiving, subverting and sabotaging foreign enemy groups The museums were geared toward the average visitor, whether American or international, and not toward researchers and academics who had a more specific focus

10 Whose values and perspectives are best represented, and who is left out? Clearly the values of the status quo and successful or “safe” leaders/movements in civil liberties were offered, such as: Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, etc. Violent or extremely controversial dissenters were not given a proper voice. These perspectives were barely visible and not given discourse.

11 Would you take students to these museums and if so, how would you structure the visit? Of all the museums we used for our particular focus, we would focus on taking students to the Spy Museum: The presentations and layouts of the museum were stimulating for visitors, very tactile. Themes and Objectives were very clear. Opportunities for lesson/activity: i.e. plan an infiltration of a dissent group, what ways could you investigate as a government agent? How could a dissent group counteract these measures? What specific spy tools and skills and their applications would be used?

12 How does the political/social context influence how museums present civil liberties By their nature, non-profit or government sponsored museums in the nation’s capitol would not present anything controversial, or violent, especially toward the American government and institutions In our experience, private museums were more likely to have a broader scope and took more risks with what they chose to display

13 What suggestions could we offer to improve/change an exhibit? Acknowledge dissent groups and their perspective. Demonstrate how civil liberties originated out of the causes of dissent groups Show how American history is a history of dissent, and it needs to be celebrated whether it was successful or not Most often, museums only present what has become mainstream, show the “darker” side of things

14 How do museums/historic sites enable us to engage the past. What avenues open up. Historical pasts become embodied in museums, memorials, and historical sites. Some of these places, such as the U.S. Capitol museum become sacred symbols of our democracy However, these places of broad and revered symbolism sometimes over-simplify the complexities of struggle for equality and for civil liberties America!...

15 FINAL VERDICT We loved our visit to D.C. and the museums and sites we selected, however it did not provide us with specific and substantial research to use for our stated objectives (gov’t surveillance of dissent groups / freedom vs. security) We discovered that most of our information would come via declassified government documents and sources (things that we originally hoped to investigate via the FBI museum, etc)


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