On Friday 26 July 2019, The National Civil War Centre opened its doors to a brand new exhibition titled ‘Fake News.’
If you think of the Civil War, initial thoughts may be about the battles, sieges and bloodshed. But looked at more closely you will see that it is a battle about the power of the word – and the battle for the voice of God. How did the Royalists and Parliamentarian’s (the two sides in the Civil War) use their voices to manipulate those around them to join their side and take part in the conflict? It is this thought that sparked the idea for this new ‘Fake News’ exhibition.
The purpose of the exhibition is to spark visitor’s imagination and pose an alternative way to not only think about the Civil War but also about the world as we know it today. ‘Fake News’ is not just a current phenomenon but one that the exhibition exposes as a centuries-old tradition. The manipulation of facts in what we hear on the news today has in fact been going on at least as far back as the 17th century when the chaos and confusion of the Civil Wars, paired with rising literacy and advances in printing, proved fertile ground for misleading media.
Quickly produced and distributed pamphlets offering both the Royalists and Parliamentarian’s versions of events were the Twitter of the 1600s; portraits of political leaders were deliberately designed and altered, influencing the public in much the same way as we use filters and Photoshop now; and, like today, extremist groups jumped on new ways to persecute and spread fear about people based on their faith, politics and ways of life.
David Lloyd, Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, attended a preview launch of the exhibition on Thursday 25 July 2019 and says: “The exhibition really got me thinking about what is real and what is fake in the world around us. The exhibition itself challenges this idea by displaying a range of real and fake objects – it was interesting and enjoyable to try and work out what ones were what! It takes considerable time and thought putting an exhibition together and I think Fake News is one of the best exhibitions yet at the National Civil War Centre.”
Fake News is one of two new exhibitions opening at the Centre this year. The second is a permanent exhibition and due to be opened in September.