The Durham Western Heritage Museum is teaching Omahans history through the lens of rock music in their newest exhibit, “Louder than Words: Rock, Power and Politics.”
This exhibit looks at some of the most important debates in our country and uses music to help people understand the gravity of each topic. It includes exclusive video interviews with people such as Bono and Jimmy Carter and features photographs and artifacts to examine how music has both shaped and reflected our cultures norms on eight topics: civil rights, LGBTQ, feminism, war and peace, censorship, political campaigns, political causes and international politics.
“I think any time you can make history relatable to people, the stories and messages become much more impactful,” Director of Communications Jessica Brummer said. “Chances are, a lot of people remember where they were when they heard a certain song or have heard lyrics that speak to how people felt during an important time in our history. Connecting rock and roll with history is just another way to look at our past and the ways people impacted it or responded to it.”
The temporary exhibition was put together by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is being rented to the Durham for a short period of time. They wrote and curated the entire show, and the artifacts are all part of their collection.
It takes museumgoers through history and is organized by presidential administrations, beginning with the Eisenhower presidency in the 1950s and ending with the Trump presidency. The timeline begins in the 1950s because those are the years “rock and roll” was born.
Examples of artifacts one can see when they go through the exhibit are correspondence between the FBI and Priority Records regarding Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” original Village People stage costumes and handwritten lyrics from famous musicians like Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Bruce Springsteen and Green Day.
The museum hopes to bring awareness and understanding to those viewing the display in a way that tugs at the heartstrings and relates to each person only in the way music can.
“We always hope people will learn something new, but we also hope the exhibit sparks a conversation,” Brummer said. “We want people talking about what music they remember and how it has impacted their lives. We hope the exhibit makes you feel something, whether that be pride, sadness, hope or nostalgia, we want the exhibit to evoke something for everyone.”
“Louder Than Words: Rock Power and Politics” will be on display at the museum through Feb. 2, 2020.