To Trump or Not to Trump, Yes is the answer! Levi Fox stays on course to complete his vision of The Atlantic City Trump Museum Project.
When I first heard it, I was a little queasy….but then..
I realize now I may have pre-judged Levi Fox just a little bit about his Atlantic City Trump Museum Project. I thought it was something Trump was doing or actively a part of when he first asked what we thought it was. I assumed it was being set up to glorify his honor, and the thought made me feel immediately detached from Levi, who turns out to be about as personable as a person can be. First I found out that he is in charge of the project, not President Trump, and he works as a tour guide in A.C. and he is from the area. Next I found out it is not Levi’s intention to glorify anyone. He is a real historian, which means he is obsessed with history and knows enough about it to know that, at least in the case of the Atlantic City boardwalk and A.C. itself, history is simply disappearing. Levi’s solution is to harness the immediacy and the attention which Trump has been getting as a catalyst for preserving some of this history that is rapidly disappearing and also to create a safe dialogue space about the very polarized issue of the 45th American President.
In the book Letting Go? Shared authority in a user-generated World, historian Nona Simon discusses a temporary exhibit the Denver Community Museum which utilized as she puts it, “visitor-generated objects” (Simon 32) , which is exactly what I thought of when Levi whipped out his little Trump insignia mariners cooler full of Trump casino and resort objects. These are some of the things Levi envisions in the museum and they include: a Trump Taj Mahal beach towel, a golden box from a Trump Resort hotel (which was really brass and made in Taiwan), a promotional deck of cards from the Trump-days Harrah’s on the A.C. boardwalk ( a nice die to go with it), and a lovely TRUMP logo windbreaker. All which were promo items for casino-goers in the hey-day of Trump’s boardwalk reign, which didn’t seem to end well, as Levi is careful to point out.
Good Luck Levi!!
Levi admits that protests may erupt outside his museum, and nasty comments back and forth might surface on internet related propaganda for his museum, but he welcomes this. He feels that this venue is a safe and meaningful way for people to air their grievances and fulfill whatever desires they need to fulfill, while they learn something that is both relevant and immediate to our world. It allows people to breath life into a now immediate history, but which someday become “real”. After the class, I told Levi about my uncle Larry who had lived and worked in A.C. during Trumps heyday and asked if he would like to interview him. He was very excited about this prospect. Similarly, in LettingGo… Simon talks about the Lodz Ghetto project, which was designed to have participants in the exhibit actively be a part of it’s historical process by providing bits of research on the whereabouts of holocaust survivors on-site (Simon 28).
Levi’s model fits in with the Simon’s 5 “necessaries” in order to generate satisfaction and interest in his museum (Simon 21) which include relevancy, a safe place to express oneself, and inclusion of many viewpoints. I will visit the museum, and hope Levi goes through with it! Good Luck!
Editor Joeseph N. Newland. Letting Go? Shared Authority in a User-generated World. The Pew Center For the Arts and Heritage, Philadelphia. 2011.