North Carolina History Center at Tryon Palace

  • Edward Rothstein, who has been writing reviews of museums and exihibitions for The New York Times for several years, looks at the $60 million North Carolina History Center at Tryon Palace (See NY Times 6-Aug-2011). Under review is not only the Center, which Rothstein considers to be quite well done, but the changing fashion of recreated history in the last 20 years. As historical homes such as Tryon Palace drew fewer and fewer visitors, visitor centers were built becoming not just the gateways to the major historical homes, but, at times, their rivals, offering new expositions and elaborate genuflections to contemporary tastes.
JDN | 6-Aug-2011

Charles Willson Peale, despite his devotion to the taxonomic and contemplative majesty of the natural world, nevertheless loved novelties and used all sorts of amusements to attract customers to his museum. He eventually resorted to hiring a popular musical performer who played five different instruments simultaneously, using all parts of his body. Following Peale’s death the museum passed into the enterprising hands of P. T. Barnum, becoming part of his traveling circus — a romantic ending for an Enlightenment institution.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)