Three and a half stars
You walk through a photograph directly into Ernest Zwerner’s Citizens Market in Terre Haute, replete with shelves, coolers, tables, etc. stocked with food items circa 1945. “Please have your ration points,” reads the sign at the counter. A poster at the entrance shows a soldier holding a metal cup, and states, “Rationing Gives You Your Fair Share. Do with Less So They’ll Have Enough.” It’s 1945 and the USA is at war, just as it is now. Intended or not, this meticulously replicated exhibit begs us to draw comparisons between a war in which the administration made citizens be engaged and one in which the administration prefers we be disengaged. This is an exhibit you need to connect with, as a way of getting real here and now. Exhibit personnel speak of a literal treasure hunt of material culture. As visitors, we finish the job by finding authenticity in ourselves as citizens of a country doomed with a gigantic deficit and bereft of hopefulness. It’s been said that history is a foreign country. It appears that way in the Citizens Market. Products, prices, packaging, technology, clothing, manners, the very essence of self-hood takes getting used to. You’ll always encounter owner Mr. Zwerner and shopper Mrs. Agnes Watson as first-person, costumed interpreters. Sometimes you’ll meet the butcher, bookkeeper or stock clerk — and the specters of your family and friends who lived then. Through Dec. 31; www.indianahistory.org.