On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Fingerman Lecture the Des Moines Art Center presents a series of four lectures by leading museum directors about the role of museums in addressing the complexity of today’s cultural, political, and social concerns. In this lecture, Kevin Gover will talk about how this unique backdrop has played, and continues to play, a key role in how the museum defines its mission and vision in the 21st Century.

Americans have been taught a shallow and simple narrative of the history of Native Americans and the history of our country. Contemporary scholarship shows that a larger, richer, and more inclusive story is ours for the taking, yet that bigger and better story has not entered the popular consciousness. The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves shape our approach to current issues. Shallow narratives are satisfying and allow us to feel good about our history as a nation, but they can cause our approach to contemporary issues to be uninformed and even misinformed. Gover’s lecture will implore us to fearlessly embrace the larger, messier, more complex truths of our history. For when we do, we find that the story of America is richer, more compelling, and more heroic than the history we imagined, providing valuable insights for our use as we become an ever more diverse nation.