Mid-day Update

Mid-day Extra: Occupy Wall Street is history

Adriene Hill Dec 28, 2011

Long, long ago, thousands of people from around the country gathered in public parks to show how unhappy they were with the government, big banks — lots of things.

They set up tents, wrote signs, and began to furiously tweet. It was a key moment in American history; protests dominated the headlines and Time Magazine named “the Protester” as Person of the Year.

Oh, wait. This movement actually only began around four months ago: Occupy Wall Street.

But for some historians at places like the Smithsonian and the Museum of the City of New York, the freshness of the Occupy movement doesn’t make it any less momentous. A number of big museums have already begun collecting materials, and some even have exhibitions planned for the near future.

In today’s Mid-day Extra, we look at how Occupy Wall Street is already history.

To find out how institutions big and small decide when something is important enough to be included in their collections, we went to Ben Alexander, head of special collections and archives at Queens College in New York.

He says gathering things like signs and tents is more in line with the way traditional exhibitions are put together, but that the Occupy movement poses a unique problem for the archivist. Being so quick to put these artifacts up in museums could also change how we see the Occupiers years from now.

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