Accepted Paper:

Getting (Un)Comfortable with(out) Things  
Christy DeLair (Colgate University)

Paper short abstract:

Focusing on the exhibition Unsettled Conditions: How We Talk about the Environment and Our Place in It, this paper explores the challenges — and opportunities — of creating exhibitions around contemporary social issues and anthropological theories in a small academic museum with limited collections.

Paper long abstract:

Focusing on the exhibition Unsettled Conditions: How We Talk about the Environment and Our Place in It, this paper explores the challenges ¬— and opportunities — of creating exhibitions around contemporary social issues and anthropological theories in a small academic museum with limited collections. The Longyear Museum of Anthropology at Colgate University, while rich in local archaeological materials representing Haudenosaunee communities and eclectic collections from around the world, lacks associated archival records or ethnological notes and has not continued to develop in the direction of current faculty research or teaching interests. Curatorial staff, noticing a deep disconnect between the anthropology museum and anthropology faculty, sought to reconnect the museum to contemporary anthropological discussions, to inspire visitors to think critically about material culture in their own lives, and to provide a space for community members to think through current issues. With the aim of being more responsive to current issues, museum staff and student curators decided to create an exhibition on environmental degradation and climate change using a combination of collections, media, dynamic interactives, and community stories and objects. This paper explores the difficulties and decisions in curating an exhibition on current issues with limited collections materials, the process of collecting stories and objects from community members, and reflects on the responses from visitors to the experimental format.

Panel P046
Exhibiting Anthropology beyond Museum Collections