By Dustin J. Mack
Chief Curator, History Museum at the Castle
The History Museum at the Castle has designed a three-month exhibit to explore growing divisions in our society and we’ve called it, Bridging the GAP Years, 1969-2019.
Over the past 50 years, political polarization, wealth inequality and feelings of social isolation have increased while our collective empathy has declined. GAP Years presents that data and challenges citizens to creatively close those gaps. The exhibit’s design allows 3,000 square feet in our gallery to host free programming that will foster conversations, collaborations and social events.
The exhibit, to run from February through the beginning of May 2019, has been supported by a $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation’s Bright Idea Fund.
The exhibit will feature easy-to-read graphs and statistics that demonstrate political, economic and social gaps that have formed locally and in U.S. society. Brief reference points provide the necessary historical context for these changes. Interactive touchscreen technology allows visitors to examine their personal politics, economic well-being, social connections and level of empathy.
Most importantly, the exhibit provides space for visitors to congregate, reflect and engage with one another. By providing this space, GAP Years hopes to fulfill its goal of inspiring a greater sense of community cohesion by highlighting the historical context for what presently divides us.
After three months, GAP Years will be available to other venues throughout the Fox Cities. The exhibit’s mobile design will further increase accessibility, continue to inform the public and remain a force for community betterment.