The American Dream with a Few Rough Edges

 An Exhibit Review of The Ohio Historical Society’s “1950s: Building the American Dream”

“What lessons do we learn from Anne Frank?” So reads the first sentence of Edward Rothstein’s recent New York Times review of the new Anne Frank Exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance. The sentence is striking because it captures the primary mission of today’s museum: instruction. And, perhaps more than ever before, that educating is done with a heavy amount of text. I still have strained childhood memories of waiting for my sister and mom to hurry-up and finish reading every last thing at an exhibit so we could continue through the whole  museum (of course, I should thank them for that now that I’m older and wiser). While I have not had the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank exhibit, it sounds like the diary itself—and the text inside it—is the main attraction holding the various pieces together. The exhibit certainly appears to have an instructional goal in mind, which is even captured in the museum’s name. This style of presentation is mirrored in the recently opened “1950s: Building the American Dream” exhibit at the Ohio Historical Society, even while the two exhibit topics differ greatly. Continue reading