Detroit Historical Museum exhibit wins national award
“Detroit 67: Looking Back to Move Forward,” the Detroit Historical Museum’s look at the turbulent events of July 1967, has been awarded the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ National Medal — the highest honor given by the federal agency.
The award recognizes institutions that make exceptional contributions to their communities. It will be presented May 24 at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.
Bob Bury, Detroit Historical Society executive director, called the award “an important moment for Detroit and for all of our partners, who lent their perspectives and expertise to this transformational effort.”
“Detroit 67,” which will be at the museum through 2019, is a kaleidoscopic, interactive look at the events of July 1967.
The project was shaped by 500 oral histories museum staff took from individuals who lived through the rebellion, a deliberate effort to ground the exhibition in community engagement and grass-roots experience.
At the time the show opened in 2017, project director Malowe Stoudamire told The Detroit News that the city had three options as it faced the momentous, 50-year anniversary.
“We could let the moment go and not pay attention,” he said. “We could let other people tell the story. Or we could look on it as opportunity to collectively tell our own stories, and put voices and faces to it. That’s what I call controlling the narrative.”
Only two Michigan institutions have previously won the National Medal — Ann Arbor’s Artrain USA in 2006 and The Henry Ford in 1998. The Detroit Zoo was a finalist in 2017.
Stoudamire conceded there was some initial opposition.
“Someone said to me, ‘Why would you pull a scab off an old wound?’
” he recalled.
“But,” Stoudamire added, “we are not celebrating a bad period in history. We’re connecting people with their history.”