But then (to follow up on the title) that I suppose is what one should expect from an exhibit run by an ardently religious college. As I keep insisting in these reviews, one more circle in the overall rating section would help -- a "good" would be helpful, in fact why not replace "average," a term I don't find all that useful, with "good" and maybe adding one called "fair" before "poor"?
Anyway, the museum I visited is on Heritage Green in downtown Greenville. I say this for clarification, for there is also another museum on the Bob Jones campus proper. The exhibit interested in my as 2012 was the bicentennial celebration of Dickens, and I happened to be in London for several months of it, seeing a really excellent Dickens exhibit at the Museum of London and another at the British Library, so perhaps I'm spoiled.
The exhibit covers two floors, the first supposedly covering Dickens's social conscience and stance, the second covering his literary work. A lot of work went into the exhibit, and it is nicely set up, but I must tell you that there's very little Dickens on the first floor. It's not uninteresting. I enjoyed the Gentlemen's Club section, especially the touch screens which introduce one to Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry Irving, the first actor to be knighted, and Bram Stoker (who was Irving's stage manager as well as the author of the great epistolary novel Dracula), and there was a fairly interesting exhibit on women's issues of the day. But while there were a few quotes from Dickens, there were more by other writers and thinkers - so how much Dickens was there?
More on the second floor than the first. There is a look at Dickens's Gads Hill Office, then Fagin's Den, and a few on-screen cautionary tales of of deadly sins as represented by, among others, Miss Favisham. This is followed by an odd on-screen juxtaposition of Sidney Carton (the great anti-hero of A Tale of Two Cities) and Ralph Nickleby (Nicholas's uncle and the prime antagonist of the novel), and an even odder touch screen juxtaposition of the Manette dinner party and the Fezziwig dinner party - much more emphasis on the Fezziwigs than on the Manettes I fear - though a lovely Victorian table was set up, and behind it on a wall a copy of a Raphael painting.
Finally another screen with bits and pieces of the ghosts of Christmas from A Christmas Carol.
I was not uninterested, and I understand that Bob Jones U is known for its Christian tableaus - the Victorian table on the second floor and the Gentlemen's Club on the first are in that tradition and the most interesting visual touches in the exhibit. But I was hard-pressed to understand what the exhibit was trying to do, other than preach the Christian message in an odd and I must say somewhat underhand way via Victorian England and Dickens.
There is a brief guide to the show which continues to preach via "Keep Thinking!" blurbs after each description of the sections of the exhibit. The one that was least clear to me, and a little disturbing if I read it right, was that following the description of "Women's World: Withdrawing Room" which asked one to "keep thinking" with the following thought: "Women have obviously gained much since the Victorian Era. What might they have lost?"
Hmmmm...what the Dickens!?
Not unhappy I visited, but there was less there than met the eye, not as much Dickens as I'd have liked, and what there was presented in a somewhat muddled manner.
Quick note - there is a children's room where they can learn a bit about Dickens, but there were children in there with their mother, and I didn't want to intrude, so I don't know what it holds. You might want to check it out.
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