Friday, June 28, 2013

Focusing on EveryBody: New Smithsonian Exhibit Brings Attention to Disability History

This week, the Smithsonian opened up a new exhibit that focuses on disability history as part of the National Museum of American History. “EveryBody: An Artifact History of Disability in America” is the first of its kind and is entirely online, which means many people can access it.

Currently, the collection is made up of stories and atrifacts collected by the Smithsonian for more than 50 years, and the collection will continue to grow. It is difficult for people today to get a good grasp on disability history since the disabled community was often ignored in the past, but this exhibit sheds a bit of light onto that cast aside community. As museum curator, Katherine Ott, says, “Being anonymous or forgotten does not mean that you are invisible. We can piece together past experiences by combining what the image tells us (about age, clothing, location, era, activity) with what we know about the history of disability in America.”

A poster available to download
There are many untold stories out there that are important in gaining an understanding of disability history and promoting awareness and acceptance. Only a handful of individuals ever made it into the history books, and even then, it was because they had some historical influence outside their disability. The evolution of the role of disability in American culture as a whole seems to get little attention. How often does one find such an account, especially one that is accessible to a widespread audience? The Smithsonian's exhibit offers people the opportunity to see a side of America's history that often goes unnoticed, challenging people's understanding of American history and how we got where we are today.

The exhibit is divided into five main sections: Disability and History, People, Place, Technology, and Citizens and includes items like Braille writers, prosthetics, protest artifacts, medical devices, and wheelchairs that show the history and progress that has been made in America. They also have some really neat looking posters that you can download (in English and Spanish) for free and print.

Definitely go check it out; EveryBody is an interesting and educational exhibit that is worth giving a look. And isn't it said that we can't move forward without first knowing where we've been? Click here to head over to the online exhibit, explore a little, and then tell us what you think about it!

Happy learning!

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