The Smithsonian Institution's traveling extension, its Museum on Main Street program, stops in rural libraries and other public facilities, where local historians and archivists may add their own supplementary exhibits and events. It has been touring Between Fences, an examination of fences in U.S. history. The present study examines a stop in the Community Library in Ketchum, Idaho, in the summer of 2009. Local organizers supplemented the touring material with displays of fences in the history and culture of the U.S. West. These displays, mostly of photographs and paintings, regarded fences bordering ranches and farms as almost natural parts of the landscape. The Smithsonian exhibit, on the other hand, openly acknowledged fences' complicity in issues of public and private ownership. Regrettably, it sidestepped the most contentious aspects of national border issues—Minutemen and xenophobia, for example—but its very foregrounding of fences' history realizes a founding dream of cultural studies.
Skip Nav Destination
John Streamas; Looking between Fences in American History. Radical History Review 1 October 2010; 2010 (108): 161–174. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01636545-2010-010
Download citation file: