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Statues 'Speak' with QR Codes

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Statues and monuments of notable Americans are scattered all over this country.  If you have ever visited the United States Congress and walked the storied halls, you will see hundreds of statues of famous former Americans.  Recently, there has been a movement to take down statues of those who may have a checkered or troubled past compared to what we value today.  What if these figures could speak?  What would they say?  What could we learn?  Might we learn about the time and the circumstances surrounding their actions?  Neil Orford, a former history teacher in Canada thinks QR codes should be put on statues to repurpose them into “teachable moments for future generations.”

Recently articles have shared stories about statues having QR codes added to them, providing a new dimension to the statue.  Two examples are worth noting.  At Duke University in North Carolina, a project is underway called “Statues Speak.” Elizabeth Baltes, assistant professor of visual arts at Coastal Carolina University, organized the project.  Baltes is a former Ph. D. student at Dukeand was inspired after seeing statues in London tell their stories after viewers scanned QR codes mounted on the statues.

In Charleston, S.C., as many as eight statutes and markers come to life for those viewers with smart phones. Local businessman, John Rivers, created a small group, known as the Rainbow Group, assembled private funding to also emulate London.  “We’ve got all these statues and monuments in Charleston. What if, instead of tearing things down, we expand the history and look at ways we can bring people together?” he said. “We all agreed that was a good mission, to try to expand the available history.”  Volunteers recorded stories of those depicted in the monuments and were vetted by local historians.