Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Our Hill, Our Home, Our Stories' Pops Up to Honor the Hill District

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Our Hill, Our Home, Our Stories' Pops Up to Honor the Hill District

Article excerpt

History, officially, is about wars and revolutions, kings and queens, conquerors and explorers - really sanguinary drama that somehow takes on a pallor in school.

If you can make it through the dry recitations as a student and still love it, it came alive for you somewhere along the line, and you know this: History isn't just about people who did world- beating things. History is in our DNA, in our photo albums, our homes, neighborhoods, public buildings and the places where we celebrate and mourn.

A pop-up museum in the Hill District opened Friday and closed Saturday to show us how we interpret our history through objects, pictures and personal stories.

A pop-up museum is an offshoot of the do-it-yourself movement, turning the traditional museum on its ear and making it an instrument of the people. Hill District residents came out with objects that tell stories about their lives and the neighborhood, and they took their items home when the museum was dismantled.

"Our Hill, Our Home, Our Stories" was an idea that Alima Bucciantini and Terri Baltimore, director of neighborhood engagement at the Hill House Association, devised to connect a class at Duquesne University with the neighborhood. (See also the Facebook page.)

Ms. Bucciantini's class in material and visual culture curated the show. Class members are graduate students in public history, a discipline that the National Council on Public History describes as "making history relevant and useful in the public sphere."

Few of us who make history in the world make the official versions, which are mere highlight reels. A museum of hours, not of years, represents the fleeting transit of personal history that leaves the stage when we do.

It is also a great way for a neighborhood to celebrate its people and the value they place on the objects they share.

At the opening reception of the event, which filled two rooms of the Blakey Program Center, Melvie Blackwell, who has lived in the Hill District for 62 years, stood in reverie. …

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