American Bison at the Smithsonian

For this week’s blog post, I found it difficult to find a suitable exhibit for analysis. I ran into so many sites with the same problem we’ve discussed all semester- many of them hadn’t been properly maintained, and so many videos are no longer viewable. Besthistorysites.net in particular needs to get it together. In general, this site is a great resource. I realize they have a TON of information that must be extremely challenging to maintain, but I’ve gone to this site multiple times for this new media class and it’s really only served to be a good example of what NOT to do when it comes to presenting history using newer forms of media.

Moving on from The Smithsonian has a pretty cool interactive bison exhibition. This is an old exhibit from 2014, but everything is still up to date and accessible. They use video sparsely with this exhibit, which I think is to their benefit. The video portion can be found here. It’s basic- the video shows some bison footage, and their keepers discuss the significance of the bison, their role historically in our culture, how they’re cared for, and some details about the (then) upcoming exhibit, all set to some really catchy saloon piano tunes. The bison clip is very much done in the segmented approach that John Burkhart discusses, not too long

baby-bison
I really chose this topic so I could have a reason to post this photo of this little nugget. When Western Europeans first arrived in North America, they called these animals bisonte, buffes, and buffles. This little guy looks like a buffle for sure.

The video acts as a great supplement to the other parts of the online exhibition. The video presents the viewer with information at a set pace, and the photo hot spots I mentioned earlier allow the viewer to click through at their own pace and spend additional time on topics that interest them more. Visitors can learn about the bison, their habits, and their habitat this way. The exhibit is versatile in that it does two things. First, it acts to arm future visitors with basic knowledge before they attend the exhibit. Then, later, they can return to the site and clarify anything they might want to. It also functions well alone. I enjoyed exploring the exhibit two years after the fact. While it would have been best to see the actual bison, the online exhibit still has lasting value.

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