December 17, 2008

WPA murals as teaching tool

Once offensive murals to become an educational toolThey've been the target of controversy ever since they were first painted 70 years ago--murals depicting, among other things, the lynching of a Native American.

The old Ada County Courthouse is where those paintings will soon serve as an educational tool.

For years these murals were deemed so offensive, they were covered up by large flags.

Now, state leaders and tribal leaders want them not only exposed, but explained.
And: At one point, that controversy lead to concealment. For a decade visitors were shielded from what was considered offensive images--settlers accosting, then hanging a Native American.

But, once again, times have changed. The building is now the temporary home of the Idaho Legislature, which last year decided instead of hiding the murals, they should be highlighted.

"Changes in history over time are something we value as a society and to pretend they didn't happen and make them go away would not be telling the truth," said Gallimore.

Idaho's five Indian tribes and state leaders collaborated to design interpretive plaques, and in the next couple weeks those will be installed beneath the controversial murals--telling the story of Idaho's sometimes bloody and brutal past.
Comment:  Interpreting the controversial murals is a good solution. Covering up the murals is a decent solution also. Displaying the murals without interpretation or destroying them would be bad solutions.

For more on the subject, see Best Indian Monuments to Topple.

No comments: