March 7, 2012
The historic lobotomy being practiced by the director of the Hull House Museum was called to task during the February 12, 2012 Panel discussion: Historic Preservation and the People’s History.
Can TV: Sunday March 4, 10:30am on Comcast (or RCN) channel 21.
The policies of the University of Illinois and the Hull House Museum’s director, as it concerns Taylor Street and the Hull House neighborhood, were refuted by nationally recognized experts during a heated debate at the Hull House Museum.
Taylor Street’s Little Italy, the port-of-call for Chicago’s Italian American immigrants, became the focal point in an intense discussion by a group of prominent panelists – plus an audience comprised of historians, researchers, educators, students, representatives of the Taylor Street community, and Lisa Lee, the director of the Hull House Museum. The panel remained steadfast in their definition of historic preservation – concurring with the Italian American community’s long held position that the preservation of the stories of the people who lived the experience of growing up in the Hull House neighborhood was as equally, if not more, important than the preservation of the buildings that housed their activities. Taylor Street’s contingent won the day when the renowned group of panelists dismissed the arguments of the Hull House director that one must be a vetted historian to include their stories in the Museum’s website. One panel member suggested “job security” as a remedy to the resistance to include “the people’s history” in their historic preservation.
Further, exposing the hypocrisy on display that day was the printed handout distributed by the Museum’s director. Buildings are much more than… They tell us a lot about our society – who, how and why they lived the way they lived. Here’s our recipe for conscientious observation: Multiple voices and stories; Nurture public memory; Challenge dominant narratives; Bring invisible histories to light.
Amazingly that printed handout, while supporting the panel and the community, completely contradicts the position the Museum’s director has publicly taken in her refusal to include a website link that would contain the stories of immigrants and migrants that had lived the experience of Jane Addams’ “Hull House Neighborhood.” Once again, the Museum’s director, arrogantly and with impunity, “talks the talk” but refuses to “walk the walk.”
Further discrediting and refuting the position of the UIC’s Hull House Museum was the quote attributed to the sponsor of the event, the National Public Housing Museum: “We are more than objects. We are more than artifacts. Our legacy is the sum of our stories.”
Unfortunately, the edited version of that TV program left out the hotly contested discourse that occurred between Lisa Lee, director of the Hull House Museum, and community residents challenging her right to arbitrarily direct the Museum to dispense, by both omission and commission, flawed history concerning Jane Addams, sociologist, and the “Hull House Neighborhood.”
Reminded that she had boycotted a meeting with the community representatives on this issue–as was requested by both the UIC Chancellor and the President of the UIC Board of Trustees–to discuss the recommendation that the Hull House Museum’s website contain a link titled: Stories From the Hull House Neighborhood, the director, abruptly left the premises without a response.