Viva HemisFair: Reexamining a World's Fair in a Twenty-first Century Museum Exhibit
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This thesis examines Viva HemisFair! Fifty Years of HemisFair '68 Memories, a recent temporary exhibition planned to coincide with the three hundredth anniversary of the city of San Antonio, Texas, and the fiftieth anniversary of the world's fair that was held there in 1968. The exhibit, on view at San Antonio's famed Institute of Texan Cultures from April 2018 to January 2019, was part of a city-wide celebration of the events. Unlike the rest of the city's year-long celebration and commemoration, Viva HemisFair offered visitors an unusual postmodern peek into the backstory of the making of a world's fair, with all of its attendant controversies. In a very quiet and non-didactic way, this small, low budget, and relatively unassuming temporary display draws on original oral historical and primary document research to create a multi-voiced, multi-dimensional portrait of a monumental extravaganza that took place in the middle of a phenomenally divided era. In this thesis, I highlight and expand upon the work that the exhibit's curator, Dr. Sarah Gould, did in creating her multi-voiced exhibit, identifying the core tensions between HemisFair and its portrayal in this exhibit. In so doing, I hope to contribute to a larger discourse both within and beyond the museum world about the significance of this shift in the methods of museum representation.