#AskACWM | New Year, New Museum Now

During an Instagram Q+A this summer, we were asked “What is your favorite thing to teach visitors?” We’ve been mulling over that. These are some of the staff’s favorite answers.

  • Whatever you think about the Civil War, it’s more complicated than that.  If the issues and dilemmas were as clear and easy as we wish to make them in hindsight, there would not have been a civil war.
  • That the era of history that the museum is dedicated to lives in the present and still affects their daily lives
  • I enjoying teaching visitors the mechanics of the casting process at the Foundry using the display model.
  • The war was complex, more than how many died. It was a test of whether or not the young democracy could truly survive.
  • I get the most out of any interaction where someone says something along the lines of “I never thought about it that way before.”
  • That history is wonderfully complicated, and much of the interest and fun in studying it comes from exploring its intricacies, conundrums and contradictions.

Most of our answers circled around the idea of complexity. As one staff member said, “Whatever you think about the Civil War, it’s more complicated than that.” We regularly grapple with these complicated histories – both amongst ourselves and with our visitors and program participants. So as 2019 kicks off, we thought this was a great time to think about our complex mission and decide on some resolutions.

In 2019, the Museum resolves to:

  • Welcome difficult, but necessary conversations about the Civil War and its legacies
  • Embrace discomfort in an effort to spark curiosity in new and returning visitors
  • Always tell the whole story, or as complete of a narrative as we currently know
  • Resist the urge to over simplify the Civil War because it’s easy
  • Acknowledge when we are wrong and work to correct it

We hope you’ll find these resolutions stamped across our new flagship exhibit and museum building, as well as in our upcoming year of programming. We cannot wait for you to see what we’ve been working on.