Greenback America

Interpretive themes and outcome goals

By the Greenback America Team

Several weeks ago we drafted the interpretive themes and outcome goals for Greenback America. These are, essentially, the project charter for this exhibition. The “big idea,” the interpretive themes, and outcomes define the scope of this project and establish measurable outcomes (as you can see, we’re still working on that part.) We relied on Beverly Serrell’s prescriptions for “big ideas,” and interpretive planning guidelines established by Marcella Wells, et. al.,to create these.

Within these interpretive points and outcome goals you will find several assumptions about the nature of this exhibit. It is only, in part, about telling a historical story. We have embedded in these expectations a sense that we must make connections with our audience’s own lives, and that what visitors do with these connections after they leave the exhibit is as important as what they learn.

The Big Idea:

How the United States paid for the Civil War transformed America

Interpretive themes:

  1. The United States had to borrow, tax, and create money in new ways to pay for war.
  2. New financial policies created new divisions in American life.
  3. Federal government became a new presence in individual lives and the economic life of the nation.
  4. Each generation defines the relationship between individuals, the federal government, and the economy.

Outcome goals:

Visitors will…

  1. Connect with the exhibit’s historical actors through the complex and difficult decisions they made at critical points, and with the ways ordinary people gained or lost by the new system.
  2. Have an engaging social interaction in the exhibit.
  3. Gain competence in understanding their place in the monetary system created during the Civil War, and in understanding that each generation defines monetary policy and the federal presence in the economy in its own way.
  4. Think of the Civil War in a different way (Deep stories beyond those defined by North-South military conflict, chronologically expansive beyond 1861-1865, impacts lives today–in ways other than legacies of emancipation–, and ways of talking about the Civil War in museums can be different.

These are only a draft, and will likely change a bit as we go through the focus group process and complete the Exhibit Interpretive Plan.

What do you think?