Category Archives: Museums

“Museum Histories” course, Spring 2015

Here’s the syllabus for my upcoming course, AMST1903I. It’s a history of museums, mostly American, history and science as well as art. The syllabus includes links to many of the articles, but you’ll find some are behind paywalls. Any feedback welcome! Advertisements

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Joint Statement from Museum Bloggers and Colleagues on Ferguson and related events

I am pleased to join a group of distinguished museum folks in this statement about the role of museums in addressing contemporary issues. The public humanities puts community at the center of its theory and asks: How might cultural institutions be useful to community? The recent events help to focus that question. We should ask not …

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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 …

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My talk at Mt. Holyoke: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Here are my slides and my notes from a talk I gave at Mt. Holyoke College for the (long name!) Five Colleges, Inc. / Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Bridging Initiative in the Public and Applied Humanities. I greatly enjoyed the opportunity, both because writing the talk allowed me to look back over the past decade …

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Museumbots: An Appreciation

Meet the museumbot. Museumbots tweet random objects from museum collections, four or five objects a day. I know of three museumbots, and I’m sure there are more. @museumbot tweets Metropolitan Museum of Art collections, @cooperhewittbot, and @bklynmuseumbot their eponymous museums’ collections. Here’s the last few objects from @museumbot, as good a sample as any: It’s …

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Beautiful Data

I spent the last two weeks of June at Beautiful Data, a workshop funded by the Getty Foundation and run by Harvard’s MetaLab. I’m not sure why the name, “Beautiful Data”: but it seems fair, given that the workshop address both data about beautiful things and data made beautiful by its utility. The question for …

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Call for Papers: Lost Museums Colloquium

In conjunction with the year-long exhibition project examining Brown University’s lost Jenks Museum, the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, and the John Carter Brown Library invite paper proposals for a colloquium on lost artifacts, collections and museums. (Other formats—conceptual, poetic, and artistic—are also invited.)  The …

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50 Years of Collecting at the National Museum of American History

Here’s the talk I wrote for the National Council on Public History conference at the end of March. It’s a piece of a longer work in progress on the history of the museum’s collections. This talk focuses on the the philosophical and bureaucratic contexts of the collecting at the museum. A second part, perhaps this summer, …

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One Room (The before post)

I’m about to start my gig at Office Hours, the RISD Museum program “where invited artists, designers, performers, and other community members creatively curate, teach, and experiment through a variety of participatory events.” That’s the official description. In the publicity, it’s “artists, designers, experts, and brainiacs.” I’m not sure what category I’m in: I guess …

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History museums, learning from history

Can museums use museum history to think about the future? Can their past successes and failures guide them? How might they find possibility and potential in the past when they need to change? I suggest that one way to do this is to look to the long history of museums. Museums have been many things. …

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