art history pragmatic historian reading

Teasing Out the Real History in Historical Fiction

Note: This post contains spoilers for the novel “The Art Forger” by B.A. Shapiro. I finished reading “The Art Forger” by B.A. Shapiro this week. The novel reminded me of the movie “National Treasure.” “The Art Forger” would lend itself well to being turned into a movie because of the action and intrigue. (Though there are other movies about art forgers, I could not find one based on this book.) In it, we are treated…

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history law museums pragmatic historian preservation

Taking History Seriously

I am irritated. I read a story on NPR News about a Pennsylvania guy who stole artifacts, mostly firearms, from about a dozen museums in the 1960s and ’70s. He got caught in 2018 after trying to sell one of the guns. His sentence? One day. One. Day. I am irritated because this sentence shows how unseriously the courts, and by extension, society in general, take thefts from museums. Oh, well, it’s just an artifact,…

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history music pragmatic historian

Duran Duran – “Keep Moving Into the Future But Acknowledge Your Past”

Over the past week my Twitter feed has been burning up with news of Duran Duran. It’s almost as though they’ve released a new album …. And they have! The album “Future Past” dropped on October 22, 2021, the fifteenth studio album for one of my all-time favorite bands. Whoever is operating Duran Duran’s Twitter account is doing a marvelous job of keeping fans updated on the band’s current media appearances to promote the album.…

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history ideas pragmatic historian thought fodder

Now & Then: A Useful History Podcast

One of the most important uses of history is to use it to work ourselves out of predicaments we are facing RIGHT NOW. It’s easy to assume that because history is about what happened in the past, we can set it aside. That it has nothing to say to us now because conditions were different in the past. Except that humanity seems to cycle through the same sorts of challenges even when presented with what…

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museums pragmatic historian

Wealth Disparity in the Museum World

Recently, the museum Twitter community was abuzz with a report from the trade union AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), specifically from AFSCME Cultural Workers United. The report, called “Cultural Institutions Cashed In, Workers Got Sold Out,” presents information on the cultural sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, including museums of all types, historical sites, zoos, and botanical gardens. It explains how the pandemic hit the sector in terms of closures and the…

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