Taboo & Tragedy

Taboo & Tragedy: A Young Curators Pop-up Exhibition

Co-curators: Delilah Garrett (6th grade), Grace Kaelin (7th grade), Jolina Maggard (6th grade), & Claire Sabelhaus (9th grade)

Lead Instructor: Bailey O’Leary, Program & Education Coordinator

JULY 13, 2019 (exhibition will remain up for a couple months)
Opening Reception: July 13, 2019; 12-4 pm

The public education system exists as a vehicle to deliver information to the nation’s youth. However, when it comes to depicting the full historical narrative of the United States, the school system is lacking. In general, children are taught a more pristine, ideal version that has become detached from the original narrative. This false tuition does not “protect” our children, as some would argue, but rather offers a large disadvantage.

Dating back to the 1930s through the 1950s, many people began to take issue with how social studies textbooks depicted the U.S. This led to several states and organizations believing that textbooks should discuss the exceptionalism of the U.S. instead of listing cold hard facts about our nation’s structural formation.

According to a nation-wide survey conducted by Education Week, Civics and Government high school courses are required within 36 states (only 8 of these states require the course length to be at least one year); U.S. History high school courses are required within 40 states (28 of these states require the course length to be at least one year). Unfortunately, Kentucky high schools require neither Civics and Government nor U.S. History courses.1

Taboo and Tragedy is a pop-up exhibition co-curated by 6th – 9th grade students from Greater Louisville and rural Indiana. The curators strive to expose topics that are rarely taught within public schools, aside from (possibly) some quick mentions. After exploring Portland Museum’s collections, their chosen topics discuss the grave-robbing of Native American artifacts, the Ku Klux Klan, the emotional trauma of World War I, and the scandalously iconic 1920s flapper. Intrigued by the collection’s related objects, the Young Curators researched each topic and felt the need to spread their newfound knowledge.

  1. Sawchuk, Stephen, “How History Class Divides Us,” Education Week, 19 Nov 2018, www.edweek.org/ew/projects/how-history-class-divides-us.html.

This exhibition and related programming is funded in part by grants from Louisville Metro Government. The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, provides operating support to Portland Museum with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.