Across the country, museums and historic sites welcome visitors into a world long gone but fundamental to America today. Military history in particular is etched into our country’s culture and the public’s imagination. The trouble, though, for museums and historical sites lies in continuing to make it both accessible and relevant to today’s audiences.
Through Interpreting American Military History at Museums and Historic Sites, Marc K. Blackburn tackles the difficult task of helping those institutions charged with the care of sites, collections and stories that relate to our past relatable while still maintaining the dignity and reverence of their rich history. Looking at the various components of American military history such as battles and famous figures, Blackburn provides alternatives to the traditional museum experience. The 21st century is a culmination of the past and it is more important than ever to remember and learn from the triumphs and failures, and this guide provides and explains those strategies for making our stories and collections relevant to modern audiences. This books acts as a primer for those unfamiliar with academic trends of the last forty years. Historiography of American military history, like that of other sub-fields, shifts as new information surfaces or as perspectives change.
Blackburn modernizes this area through new interpretative methods, as well as through case studies of museums and historic sites that have created programs, interpretive media, outreach strategies, and mission goals updated to meet the needs of today’s patrons. Armed with these strategies, historic institutions will have the foundation to provide compelling, relevant, and engaging experiences for the 21st-century audience.
Other resources related to this book:
America at War Podcast – Author’s podcast that discusses the depth and breadth of the military history of the United States: not only battles and leaders but ideas and institutions.
Facebook Page – Author Facebook page of military history-related material.
Them’s Fighting Words! New Approaches in Military History – Audio from Blackburn’s session at the 2015 AASLH Annual Meeting