Dear Boston at the Boston Public Library
posted April 13, 2014 4:39 PM by Gemma Doyle
On Saturday I went to see the Dear Boston exhibition at the Boston Public Library, which opened on Monday and will remain there until May 11. The Marathon bombings that happened last year are obviously all over the news in Boston right now, but nothing in all the interviews I saw or stories I read really affected me as much as seeing the items that people left at the bombing memorial in the days and weeks after it happened, including the hundreds and hundreds of pairs of running shoes.
The exhibition is at the public library but was coordinated between the Boston City Archives, the Boston Art Commission, the New England Museum Association, and the BPL, which shows how amazing our resources really can be when we pool them between informational institutions. I have worked in a lot of public libraries and one thing I have been somewhat disappointed about when I've interned in local archives is the lack of outreach. I don't just mean the button making "fun" outreach that I mentioned in my blog entry about the NEA conference, but using the information in our archives to educate the public about the community's history by creating exhibits. It's something museums do all the time, but archives do on a very limited scale - a display case or two within the archive itself, which doesn't really do a lot for people who have never been into or even heard of their local archive. But by teaming up with public libraries to use a space that people are familiar with, we could put on medium to large exhibitions of photos or other objects that really connect with the community we serve. Some archives - mostly larger ones - do that already, but none of the archives I've interned with have, and I'm always on the lookout for examples, like Dear Boston, of what amazing things could be achieved if they did.