From the Executive Director

From the Executive Director features news and reflections on the work of PHMC by its chief administrator.

Our country is experiencing significant growing pains right now. The challenge we thought we had been facing solely with the COVID-19 pandemic has been compounded by an economic downturn, civil unrest, and an overdue conversation about race. History, which had taken a back seat to a STEM-focused world, now finds itself at the center of these conversations.

History offers lessons about the past that inspire but, at times, remind us of fallibility and oppression. It offers a perspective on our ideals as a country and where we have fallen far short. It offers a window into viewpoints besides our own, creating an opportunity for empathy and change.

We find these opportunities for the future by remembering the past with physical representations. Yet, as we have seen with statues and monuments, the very way we remember and depict the past can be fraught with emotion. These memorials by their very nature provide limited contextualization. Created at a single moment in time with certain voices in the room, they often lack nuance and diverse representation.

Such is the nature of historical interpretation — always a product of a time and place. Here at the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, we are working hard to broaden our interpretation of the commonwealth’s history and to expand the voices represented in all we do. The involvement of a diverse range of communities, organizations and individuals is key to ensuring the stories we tell better represent the depth and breadth of the history of Pennsylvania and result in a richer historical record.

Andrea Lowery
Executive Director, PHMC