A Bad Example
October 01, 2007

Posted by BDMHistorian

Museums exist to educate people. They are a place students visit on field trips to view important artifacts from the history of their country, state, county, city, or any matter of various subjects from aircraft to women in the armed services. Some museums have a staff of knowledgeable lecturers who give tours and answer questions. In Germany, there's a specific term for this position - Museumsdozent - museum lecturer.

It is therefore disappointing when a museum does a display on a specific topic and just gets it so very wrong. A case in point is a southern Virginia museum I visited this past weekend, which was holding a living history event and militaria show outside the museum, which included free admission to the inside of the museum.

The museum has a dedicated display on the Hitler Youth that has been in place for several years and features a very nice BDM Kletterweste with all the insignia, as well as a complete male HJ uniform, and some assorted odds and ends. As nice as these items are - and they are - the fact that the descriptions are so horribly wrong on most of them just takes away from the display.

Case in point, the photo below, captioned "BDM girls distribute ration cards."

In actuality, the photo shows a female letter carrier of the German postal service, and a BDM girl who is wearing a postal service armband on the left sleeve of her Kletterweste. The BDM girl is carrying a leather mail bag, and the letter carrier is holding a stack of mail, ready to place them in mail boxes along their route.

I realize that by my very nature I'm a nitpicker, but I think that people may agree with me when I say that the whole purpose of a museum is to educate, and therefore they have a duty to ensure their information is correct - even if it's just a caption on a photo, or below a pin.