Category Archives: Exhibits

“The Curator Rules”

These are the slides and my notes from my talk at Marymount University, the Bissel Lecture in the Humanities, presented April 10 as part of the Virginia Humanities Conference. My thanks to Tonya Howe for the invitation, to Marymount for their hospitality, and to the audience for its good questions. NOTE: The next entry in …

Continue reading

The Curator Rules

Museum curators have certain ways of doing things, certain rules they follow. It’s important to know what these rules are – and also to realize that they can be broken. These are notes from my talk to Catherine Whalen and Sarah Carter’s “Curatorial Practice as Experiment” course at Bard Graduate School. Catherine asked that I …

Continue reading

Collecting the History of Technology at the National Museum of American History

Collecting for history museums is challenging work, and there needs to be more research and writing on both its history and how to do it. We need to understand how and why collections came to museums; what decisions that shaped collections they hold today? And we need to talk more about how to collect, how to …

Continue reading

Authenticity, and bears

The scene: Roger Williams Natural History Museum, Providence, Rhode Island. A group of twenty third-graders has just arrived. The docent settles them down, tells them to use their inside voices and their walking shoes. But one boy can’t wait. His hand shoots up as soon as the docent asks for questions. Is it real? He’s …

Continue reading

A rock’s story

I’ve been following closely (this may sound odd) the story of a rock. Not just any rock, and not just any story. It’s a rock on Mars, and it’s been tweeting. So, a first-person Martian rock story. You can see the whole thing here, storified. The rock is sitting happily in Gale Crater. A strange robot …

Continue reading

“Teaching and Learning with Art and Artifact” presentation

Continue reading

“Facing the Museum,” Completed!

I’ve written about Faces – now called “Facing the Museum” several times on this blog. It started with the discover of several century-old “ethnographic busts” in the attic of the museum’s Collection Research Center, became more interesting as we teased out the stories of the busts, and then expanded into an overview of the history, …

Continue reading

White ceiling or black ceiling?

What color should the ceiling of a museum be? The museum has a white ceiling now. It makes it space brighter, and I’m sure that’s why it was chosen. But it also calls attention to a clutter of lighting fixtures. Through the magic of photoshop, we can make it black: Should we? What do you think? …

Continue reading

From the Brown Daily Herald on the Haffenreffer Museum

(from the Brown Daily Herald) Hidden gems abound at the Haffenreffer Elizabeth Koh Staff Writer Published: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 Sam Kase / HeraldThe Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology features over 1 million artifacts. With his bushy white hair, active Twitter feed and hipster glasses, Steven Lubar, professor of American studies, is not your typical museum director. He …

Continue reading

Process and Product

The last six weeks have been winter break at Brown. And it’s been an incredibly busy time at the Haffenreffer Museum. Good? Yes, in terms of product. We’ve accomplished a great deal. Two new exhibits installed, a lot of design completed. It’s easier to get things done when there are no classes to teach and …

Continue reading