While historians obsess over texts, in truth, much of the past comes to us not in words but in objects displayed in exhibits and museums. In this meticulously researched new study, Denise Y. Ho highlights the importance of the exhibition of the material past in Maoist China. With careful attention to the role of narrative and the difficulty of gauging audience reception, Curating Revolution uncovers the thick connections between China's material and cultural histories.

Ho compiled an impressive array of sources for this study: handbooks, museum journals, internal party documents, and interviews with those who took part in China's exhibitions. Above all, materials culled from Shanghai's archives provide unparalleled access to the lives of museum employees who were charged with curating an increasingly contested historical record. The Communists, as Ho explains, were far from the first to put China's past on display. Early museums were opened by foreigners, and the...

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