Last month I wrote a post about a “Green Revolution” display at the State Heritage Center which had been closed for adjustments after complaints about its content.
Today Inside Energy, which has an affiliation with Praire Public Radio, publishes a deeper look at what happened. Turns out that some of the complaints about the exhibit came from representatives of the oil and coal industry. Organizations which have donated significant amounts of money to the Heritage Center.
The Inside Energy piece by Emily Guerin focuses on the potential for a conflict of interest, and that’s reasonable. Museums should be free from political influence.
That being said, if you take a look some of the content of the exhibit (photos emailed to me by a SAB reader), the content was pretty biased, and I’m not at all surprised that the oil/coal industry objected.
They were right to.
Elements of this display went beyond being informative and well into the realm of political propaganda. Which really has no place in a museum. I wish Guerin had focused on that a bit more.
But nothing here is being censored. The exhibit has been taken off line until it can be fixed with more balanced information.
“As with any of our exhibits, we welcome and value public feedback in order to best serve the broad interests of all who visit,” a statement released by the North Dakota Historical Society about the exhibit reads. “Our staff has monitored attendance and listened to comments from visitors since it opened in November 2015. Based on low attendance and public comments that this exhibit would benefit from a more balanced approach and a local flavor, a decision was made to offer a broader story including additions specific to our state. Our staff will incorporate recent local innovations and content about North Dakota contributions to sustainability.”
Kimberly Jondahl, who works for the Historical Society and spoke to me about the exhibit last month, stressed with me that no content is being removed from the exhibit. She said the intent of the Historical Society is to add content to create more balance.
I think that’s a perfectly fair reaction to perfectly valid public concern over the content of the exhibit.
Here are the photos of the exhibit: