While reading Lynne Spichiger and Juliet Jacobson’s article “Telling an Old Story in a New Way: Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704,” I was reminded of Linda Nochlin’s article “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” that we read for our Methods class back in the fall of 2012.
Nochlin intends to make the reader aware of the bias construction of the artistic canon, questioning the inherent social exclusions of the culture and society in which the artworks were produced. Nochlin explains the consequences of her loaded question, for “one begins to realize to what extent our consciousness of how things are in the world has been conditioned—and often falsified—by the way most important questions are posed.”
Many art historians have dealt with this realization by picking out exceptional, albeit previously underappreciated, female artists from history and inserting them into the historical narrative. In their article, Spichiger and Jacobson deal with a similar issue in which museum exhibits attempt to include the perspectives of previously marginalized groups and individuals:
“Although many of these new or reinterpreted exhibits do an excellent job of educating audiences about different cultural views, there has been the concern that too many exhibits awkwardly try to retrofit multicultural history into pre-existing narratives which place Euro-American history at their center.”
For the authors, the inherent problem lies in the limitations of the physical museum exhibit. Through the use of an interactive website medium, they were able to create “compelling content and an engaging design, [that] also facilitat[ed] the comparison of perspectives” through a vast array of primary and secondary sources.”
While websites undoubtedly allow for a more inclusive historical narrative, the fact of the matter remains that multicultural viewpoints were often excluded from the greater historical narrative in the first place. Nochlin doesn’t attempt to revise the artistic canon; she wants to reveal the inherent social and cultural biases that lead to the male domination of art and its resulting history.
How can we recognize these historical inadequacies? What is the best way to reconcile the opposing perspectives of multicultural participants in specific historical events? I think The Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704 website does a good job of allowing the visitor to “determine his or her own truth and meaning about the event, the crosscurrents and forces that led up to it, and its powerful legacies.” We cannot change history, but we can certainly allow for a more complete narrative through an understanding of the marginalization and underrepresentation of certain multicultural groups.
By abstaining from blatant interpretation, the curator might allow the visitor to come to their own understanding of the events and the resulting significance. But will the message always be clear?
 Nochlin, Linda. “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” ARTNews, January 1971, 22-39; 67-71.
 Spichiger, Lynne and Juliet Jacobson. “Telling an Old Story in a New Way: Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704,” Museums and the Web, 2005.
 Spichiger and Jacobson
 Spichiger and Jacobson