Mining the Public?

Mining the Public

I have an academic crush and his name is Fred Wilson.

Everyone in the public history world knows Fred Wilson and if you don’t yet you will. Fred Wilson is a conceptual artist who is known for his challenge to traditional presentations of art and artifacts. In the public history world he is most notably known for his exhibit for Maryland Historical Society titled “Mining the Museum” in which artifacts like a gorgeous European silver tea set was juxtaposed to slave shackles. The kind of thing he does unsettles and is amazing! He dug deep (“mined”) the museum’s collection to say something new and valuable. I am most inspired by him and that is where I get my blog title “Mining the Public”. For me, mining the public is my public history philosophy which essentially is the belief that the general “public” has incredible complexity and wealth of historical knowledge…

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2 thoughts on “Mining the Public?

  1. Courtney, this is awesome. I had actually never heard of Fred Wilson (I am not a Public History major, if that explains it). But I Googled his exhibit, and some of these images are really powerful. I like the image of the Native American statues facing away from the exhibit viewer. Such a small adjustment, and such a powerful response. It really invokes a lot of feelings in a way that I thought a museum exhibit was not capable of doing.

    1. Courtney M. Baxter

      Thanks for the compliment Devin. I clearly adore Fred Wilson because he used simple but well thought out arrangements of objects from the museum. It’s not only clever but profound. That’s what inspired me to consider mining the public which is essentially recognizing and respecting the historical knowledge and memory of the public/non-historians, knowledge that can be remixed for the educational benefit of all.

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