Smithsonian Spotlights Disability History
With a new exhibit focusing on disability history, the Smithsonian Institution is ushering in a first for the venerable network of museums.
The exhibition from the National Museum of American History, which was unveiled this week, explores everything from stereotypes to laws, technology and issues in everyday home life for people with disabilities.
Featuring images documenting more than 50-years worth of objects and stories collected by the Smithsonian, the exhibit is the museum’s first to be presented exclusively online.
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“Many stories and events related to people with disabilities never make it into the history books or shared public memories,” said Katherine Ott, curator of medical science at the National Museum of American History. “Knowing this history deepens the understanding of the American experience and reveals how complicated history is.”
Among the objects featured in the exhibition titled “EveryBody: An Artifact History of Disability in America” are prosthetics, items from protests, buttons and t-shirts used by disability activists, wheelchairs, medical devices, text telephones for the deaf and Braille writers.
Officials at the Smithsonian say they plan to build upon the permanent online exhibit, with additions and frequent updates as well as a vibrant social media presence.
The National Museum of American History previously highlighted people with disabilities with a physical exhibition at the Washington, D.C. museum titled “Disability Rights Movement” which was on display in 2000 and 2001.