Museum Musings

As a public historian, exhibition developer, and museum worker, I'm committed to making history relevant, meaningful, and alive for contemporary audiences.  In this blog, I'll reflect on recent explorations.

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I'm Chief Curator at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.  Over the last three decades, I've worked as an exhibition developer at the Minnesota History Center, at the Outagamie County Historical Society (Appleton, WI), and as an independent consultant.  For a dozen years, I served as Director of Public History at UNC Greensboro.

Benjamin's Resume




From January-May 2019, I'm soaking up the public history scene in Helsinki, thanks to a Fulbright Fellowship!  Working with the Helsinki City Museum and the University of Helsinki's Museum Studies program, I'm finding inspiration in the galleries, in the classroom, on the streets, and beyond. 

I reflect on my experiences as they happen, below.

{Map image by Aino-Marja Miettinen}


Memory Lanes

The Helsinki City Museum (HCM) very intentionally investigates and deploys memory. I recently experienced some of the public programs...

Putting the Cat on the Table

My favorite Finnish phase is "put the cat on the table." It's not about bringing felines into restaurants (although that's a thing, too:...

New Maps, Shifting Perspectives

Last week, Fulbright Finland grantees were given the opportunity to go north--to Oulu, Finland--through the Fulbright Arctic Initiative. ...

Good to Good-for-All

I recently made a guest teaching appearance at the University of Helsinki and got an interesting glimpse into contrasting cultural values....

New Frames: A Road Trip Report

The Amsterdam Museum is a bustling place that has done some bold work. I had the pleasure of meeting with curator Annemarie de Wildt,...

Public Together or Apart?

My Espoo museum experience (see previous post) reinforced my fascination with the public-orientedness of Finland. This is a place where...

Postcards for a Stranger

Ei mainoksia, kiitos means "No ads, please." It's a phrase that Finns sometimes put on their mailboxes to ward off junk mail. But...

Who's Talking Now?

I generally favor actual historical voices in exhibitions instead of generic ones, but this week I visited an exhibit that made good use...

What They/I/We Saw

In my previous post, I noted the buzz around Amos Rex, the newly opened art museum. Given the huge lines and the number of...

Opening Doors

Through Fulbright's "buddy" system, my wife, Rachel, & I had dinner last night with Päivai Rannila and her husband Sami. As we were...



c/o North Carolina Museum of History
5 East Edenton Street
Raleigh, NC  27601

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