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Ohio Historical Society


Columbus, OH

This exhibit was designed around a simple premise: what if we don’t tell you what to think? Controversy purposefully staged controversial artifacts in spare settings to explore reactions like curiosity, fear and revulsion, to encourage visitors to generate their own questions and to resolve their impressions without curatorial direction. Physically, the challenge was intriguing: create a setting for five highly-charged objects, including Ku Klux Klan regalia, an electric chair, a circa-1860s condom, a cage used in a mental institution and a metal thumb mitt used to prevent children from sucking their thumbs. At the end of the show, visitors share their impressions by using wax pencils to write comments on photo transparencies which are projected on the wall using overhead projectors. Chosen specifically because of our experience with sensitive subject matter, H+R designed this groundbreaking exhibit in just five days.

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