But it was the subtitle that really got me. “Pieces You Don’t Normally See.” I did a college internship at the Ohio Historical Society and had gotten behind the scenes enough to know just how strong their collection is and what could await.
They’ve brought out their most thought-provoking artifacts – hence the name, “Controversy.” Among the items on exhibit are Old Sparky, the electric chair used 315 times from 1897 to 1963, and a Ku Klux Klan robe.
Before you see anything though, you walk through an area that asks if objects – even objects like these - have meaning. I wasn’t sure myself until I turned the first corner and saw the KKK robe. You could see the marks from where the robe was charred in fires. At the next corner, I turned and saw a wooden crib bed used to restrain patients at a Cincinnati mental health facility. I quickly got in the camp that objects have meaning.
No matter your conclusion, one thing’s for sure, the Ohio Historical Center’s done an excellent job of making us take a look at our history and see how accepted beliefs and practices have changed over the years.
“Controversy: Pieces You Don’t Normally See” is on display through Nov. 20 with special discussion programs scheduled throughout its run.