A Continuing Cover-Up? The Diorama Destruction Debacle Continues
Those readers who have been following this story are advised to check the earlier posts offered here and here and here, for they have been updated as the story has evolved. Highlights include the decision of the moderator of the TMFM board to shut down discussion on that board, as well as what some might characterize as stonewalling on the part of Jeff Hunt’s superiors. The high school teacher who supervised the project, Glen Frakes, has now said that he won’t accept return of the diorama unless charges are pressed against Mr. Hunt. This isn’t getting any better, folks.
The failure of the people who manage the Texas Military Forces Museum to resolve this issue in a timely fashion, as well as the contradictory tales told by Mr. Hunt to explain his decision making, explain how this sad affair has snowballed. Questions have been raised about Hunt’s employment record, including the reasons for a previous termination at another museum, and others have questioned other actions he has undertaken. At the same time, it is evident that there is a clash of cultures at the museum itself, as many people who were once affiliated with it in one way or another are furious with what’s going on.
Let’s be clear here: this issue has much more about the way in which people do things, as opposed to a debate over the accuracy of historical displays. As the students drew some of their information from Mr. Hunt’s own book, Hunt unwittingly (if, it seems, characteristically) indicts his own competence when he complains about the inaccuracies in the diorama, many of which seem to be grounded in what others might conclude were matters of opinion rather than fact.
However, the real shame here remains that high school students spent a great deal of time on a project, only to see their handiwork treated in a cavalier manner by a museum director who can’t seem to get his story straight as to why he acted as he did. That his superiors are in no hurry to resolve this situation speaks volumes about their (in)competence and suggests their indifference. Anyone can derive all sorts of lessons from this incident, which may well become a classic case study in how not to run a museum.
The result has been a different sort of education for those high schoolers than they desired or deserved. We work hard to get kids interested in history: anyone who believes in history education at the K-12 level should be dismayed (to put it kindly) at what’s happened here.
As for diorama destruction, I will soon post my impressions about a book that recounts the fate of another diorama that may be of interest, especially when you learn of the identity of one of the principals … the Duke of Wellington.