Public History Project exhibition generates ‘extraordinary’ interest during first month
The campus community and broader public are showing strong interest in the Public History Project’s “Sifting and Reckoning” exhibition.
The exhibition at the Chazen Museum of Art, which opened Sept. 12, recorded more than 7,400 visits its first month. A companion website had 4,400 visits during the same period. Visitors online represented 25 countries and 47 states.
“Since the moment it opened at the Chazen, ‘Sifting & Reckoning’ has generated extraordinary interest and attendance,” says Amy Gilman, Chazen director. “This level of response reinforces how important it is for us to acknowledge our shared histories together, as a community, and why we wanted to host it here at the Chazen, which is a place of dialogue, discussion and contemplation. This is how we create a more equitable future for UW–Madison.”
The Public History Project is the university’s effort to uncover and give voice to those who experienced and challenged bigotry and exclusion on campus and who, through their resilience and actions, have made the university a better place.
The project began in fall 2019 and is set to end in mid-summer 2023. Throughout the project, staff members, including students, have published blog posts based on their research at publichistoryproject.wisc.edu. The project’s museum exhibition runs through Dec. 23, 2022, at the Chazen. The companion website at reckoning.wisc.edu provides an immersive online experience that will remain available after the physical exhibit closes.
Throughout the first month of the exhibition, numerous special events brought crowds to the Chazen, beginning with an opening night reception. Other events that followed included a special night for students, a community night co-sponsored by the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement, and a Director’s Conversation with Gilman and Kacie Lucchini Butcher, director of the Public History Project. Upcoming events are listed at reckoning.wisc.edu.
Additionally, the project’s staff members interacted with students and employees dozens of times across campus during the first month of the exhibition, giving presentations and participating in discussions at the request of instructors, department heads and others.
“The response to the Public History Project in general and to the exhibition at the Chazen in particular has been heartening,” Lucchini Butcher says. “In the days and weeks leading up to the exhibition’s opening, our team had many conversations about our hopes. We all came back to one thing — that the community would come to see the exhibition, visit our websites and attend our community events. To the extent that already has happened, we are greatly appreciative. And we hope that strong interest in the project continues.”