How Does Your Museum Handle Controversy?

by Allyson Lazar

Evening events at conferences are always fun and often inspiring. A much asked topic in the museum field is that of how to handle contemporary (read: relevant) controversial topics in society. The 2005 Muse Award-winning Modern Oregon Issues segment of the Oregon My Oregon exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society tackles that question head-on--along with a menu of controversies faced by Oregonians.

And when I say menu, I mean literally! The exhibit is set up like a 1950s diner. Table-top juke boxes sit atop a lunch counter, but instead of golden oldies like Elvis and the Everly Brothers, visitors can select items such as "Forestry" or "Assisted Suicide." And, instead of just an audio recording, what results when you make your selection is a video looking at the topic from multiple viewpoints. A nearby "menu" lists the people featured in each film.

What creative methods for handling controversy does *your* museum use?



Hi Allyson,
Thanks for all the posts...and to James too for the photos! Good to see what is happening in Portland, even though I can't be there!

oh, Carla, it's so wonderful to "hear" you chiming in! it's great to have Lori and Merritt here...but you and Emerson would round it out all too nicely...I hope you're coming to Hawaii.

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Just want to see if you are a robot.