Present discontinuous

I recently visited a regional museum whose principal/permanent exhibition focused, appropriately, on its area – its geography, fauna, histories, industries…

It was pleasant to look around, and interesting for the fact that any sense of grand narrative was carefully avoided: there was absolutely no chronology, nothing like a timeline, nothing to suggest that our current situation is any kind of result.

The effect of this approach was curiously flattening, though. The individual displays remained individual displays, unconnected, merely in succession – a series of bullet-points; they contained anecdotes, to be sure (‘human interest’) – but they remained fragments, curiously unspecific, dropped in. An undifferentiated then in a place that might have been anywhere. (No history without story?) (It needn’t be the same old story.)

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