Brian Failing, Executive Director, Aurora Regional Fire Museum

Proposal Type


  • Seeking Additional Presenters
  • Seeking General Feedback and Interest
Related Topics
  • Memory
  • Museums/Exhibits
  • Place

Our culture is shaped by both public history and collective memory, allowing the public to interact with the past in the present. This panel explores the ways in which a national and regional museum interprets their unique stories while wrestling with their geographic location that define each. From critical assessment to practical, we explore how museums respond and update their narrative to be inclusive when telling a nationalistic narrative to how a regional museum has reimagined themselves to remain relevant and engage their community. We plan to provide two frameworks for viewing several museums. We will accomplish this through a critical assessment of the Imperial War Museum, a national museum, which has transformed to include a more


Our panel is looking at how Museums interpret and engage community based on their geographic location. This panel is both critical of museums and provides practical steps to make changes in public history museum settings. We are hoping to add a third presenter who can speak to how they have viewed or actively participated in making a more inclusive exhibit or transformed an organization to be more responsive to the geographic location.

If you have a direct offer of assistance, sensitive criticism, or wish to pass along someone’s contact information confidentially, please get in contact directly: Brian Failing, [email protected]

If you have general ideas or feedback to share, please feel free to use the comments feature below.

All feedback and offers of assistance should be submitted by July 2, 2017.



  1. Laura Koloski says:

    Hi Brian,
    I think your proposal hints at some interesting issues, though I’m sorry to have missed the end of your abstract. It’s interesting that you’ve addressed both geographical location and scope (regional v. national) here. While they seem inter-related, I wonder if they are really separate issues? From what I see in the abstract, it seems that the scope may be the more central issue in your investigation, so I might suggest you focus your session on that as an issue. I can see the value in a discussion of how an institution with national scope considers what “community” means and how engagement and inclusion might play out in these places.

    1. Brian Failing says:

      Lauren, Thank you so much for your thoughts, this is greatly helpful for us. The rest of the abstract is: ” complete and inclusive narrative. Secondly, we will explore the recent transformation of the Aurora Regional Fire Museum and their desire to move from exclusivity to inclusivity, exploring how we can better engage our community and move from a local to regional focus. ”

      I like your idea of taking it a step back and centering it around what “community” means to each – especially since have a few others interested.

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