WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013 – The National Museum of American History unveiled yesterday a new website that the public can use to upload their agricultural stories and histories. It is all part of the museum’s new Agricultural Innovation and Heritage Archive, which will eventually culminate in an 8,000-aquare-foot multimedia exhibit on “American Enterprise.” The exhibit will open in May 2015.
“We’re just doggone excited about agriculture,” said Peter Liebhold of the division of work and industry at the National Museum of American History.
Liebhold confessed that the museum had “lost our focus in terms of agriculture,” and stressed it is actively looking for artifacts from the post-World War II period to close the gap in its collection.
The exhibit’s curators are simultaneously energized and intimidated by the Agricultural Innovation and Heritage’s Archive social media element – a new kind of foray for the museum. “We’re not as stodgy as people think we are,” Liebhold joked. The curators ask that the public upload photos, stories and documents that tell the story of agriculture. Though Liebhold admitted his staff is “terrified” by the potentially “overwhelming” amount of information that archive may receive, he says the museum “looks forward to being enlightened.”
And because the archive will be available on the web, Liebhold hopes others will be enlightened as well. “Maybe a kid in L.A. doing a report can read a story from Iowa,” he said.
Jim Rapp, a corn and soybean farmer from Illinois, has already donated to the archive, and spoke about his contributions during the website’s launch in Washington, D.C. Rapp explained to the mostly citified audience the purpose of his “NoTill” sign, part of a Bureau County Soil and Water Conservation District’s effort to promote the farming method. He also donated a sign used by the Illinois Corn Marketing Board to promote ethanol in the 1980’s and 90’s.
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