If you could hand-pick some artifacts for a museum exhibit about the history of Atlanta, what would you choose?
That is exactly what the Atlanta History Center asked the public over a year ago and the result went on display this weekend. The exhibit is called "Atlanta In 50 Objects."
Don Rooney, Director of Exhibitions at the Center, is a co-curator of the exhibit, though he shares that distinction with a lot of other people.
"We came away with about 300 responses," Rooney says, "and really let the public curate this exhibit for us."
The exhibit contains everything from one of the Ramblin' Wreck Model A Fords from Georgia Tech to General William Sherman's hand-written Special Field Order #67, urging the public to evacuate the city.
On crowdsourcing the curation, Rooney says that the public is as much a witness to the stories the Center is trying to tell.
"The public," he says, "has as much authority to tell the history of this city as any staff person, any curator, any subject expert."
This democratization is going on as the Atlanta History Center is undergoing a major expansion —constructing a new wing to house the Cyclorama and the Texas locomotive. One thing that has been removed from the grounds, however: the gate which used to stand at the end of the Center’s driveway, as if to say "Come on in. This is y’all’s history too."