This review essay examines the exhibition Within These Walls. . . , a permanent exhibit, which opened May 16, 2001 at the National Museum of American History, Behring Center. The exhibit's primary artifact is a Georgian-style house once located at Sixteen Elm Street in Ipswich, Massachusetts. In interpreting the house, the exhibit focuses on five families who resided in the house and whose stories span 200 years of American history from colonial settlement and revolution, through abolition, immigration, and World War II. With its practice of social history, Within These Walls. . . represents a radical reinterpretation of Sixteen Elm Street, a building which first came to the Smithsonian in 1963 and was used to illustrate the transfer of building technology and craft practices from England to America. As an example of how museums can reinterpret their collections, Within These Walls . . . provides an inspirational model, demonstrating that old objects have new stories to tell.


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pp. 151-162
Launched on MUSE
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