I’ve been living at the museum for the last six months. I tell my staff (by which I mean my old neighbor who comes by occasionally to check in and run the place while I get food) that it’s to protect against looters, but I find it comforting to be surrounded by the material culture of our past. In the midst of our artifacts, I am reminded that humans, here in our county in southern Minnesota and across the world, have lived in highly unstable societies before, have faced famine, disease, tyranny, scarcity, and have survived. Not only that, but they left records, photographs, harrows, evening gowns, telephones, tangible proofs of their lives.
The stream of visitors has been gratifying. Every day more and more people come and ask questions about farming and handcrafts. I’m so glad I resisted the board’s pressure to deaccession all the duplicates in our plow collection.
I’ve been the director of the county historical society here for ten years and I plan to keep the museum open and history accessible to the public as long as I can. But I don’t know how long me, the museum and public history in general can weather these challenges. Luckily no one has found us important enough to hack, but I wonder if having our collections online will bring unpleasant attention–and how long we can stay connected.