Brown Bags

Into the Heart of an African Museum: an Anthropologist at Work

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Presented by Henrike Florusbosch, PhD, Anthropology

Exhibitions at the UM Institute for the Humanities

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Presented by Elisabeth Paymal, Curator and Designer, Institute for the Humanities, UM

Remembering District Six

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Presented by Olga Khroustaleva, MSI, Information Science

The Metodology of Collaboration: Ethnomuseology and Partnering in the the Exhibition of Indigenous Cultures in non-Native Museums

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Presented by John Low, PhD, American Culture

Cracking Open a Museum of Books: Education Outreach at the NYPL Research Libraries

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Presented by Kathryn Stine, MSI student, Information Science and Museum Studies

Listening to Ann Arbor’s “Rock”

Friday, October 6, 2006

Presented by Karen Schaefer, Researcher, Graduate School Staff

Re-thinking Museums in Africa

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Presented by Raymond Silverman, Director, Museum Studies Program; Professor History of Art and Afroamerican & African Studies

About Raymond Silverman

In 2002, Raymond Silverman joined the faculty at the University of Michigan where he is Professor of History of Art and Afroamerican & African Studies, and serves as Director of the Museum Studies Program. In addition to teaching courses dealing with the visual cultures of Africa and Museum Studies, he has curated a number of exhibitions dealing with various aspects of African visual culture. Silverman’s research and writing has examined the interaction between West Africa and the cultures of the Middle East and Europe, the history of metal technologies in Ethiopia and Ghana, the social values associated with creativity in Ethiopia, the visual culture of religion in 20th-century Ethiopia, and the commodification of art in Ethiopia and Ghana. Among his many writings, Silverman is the author of Ethiopia: Traditions of Creativity (1999) and Painting Ethiopia: The Life and Work of Qes Adamu Tesfaw (2005). Most recently he has been exploring “museum culture” in Africa, specifically how local knowledge is translated in national and community-based cultural institutions.

The Mosaic Image to Intersections: Exhibitions and Education a the Fowler Museum at UCLA

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Presented by Leah Niederstadt, PhD, Anthropology

Washtenaw County Historical Society: Exhibitions at the Museum on Main Street

Friday, March 23, 2007

Presented by Alice Cerniglia, Director, Museum on Main Street, Ann Arbor

From the Visual Arts to Visitor Studies: Curatorial Practices at the Art Institute of Chicago

Friday, February 9, 2007

Presented by Katie Raff, PhD, History of Art

Conferences and Symposia

Exhibiting Controversy: From Mapplethorpe to “Body Worlds” and Beyond

Mapplethorpe in Cincinnati: The Controversy, the Myth, and the Legacy

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A lecture by Dennis Barrie, the first presentation in the Winter 2007 lecture series, Exhibiting Controversy: From Mapplethorpe to “Body Worlds” and Beyond.

In 1990, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati was confronted with a crisis that nearly meant its demise. In that year, the Center came under attack for exhibiting the photography of the late Robert Mapplethorpe. His works were deemed pornographic by members of the Christian Right and, in an organized campaign, they pressured the law enforcement bodies of Cincinnati to take action against the exhibition and indict the Center and its Director. The result was the “art trial” of the Century “” one in which the First Amendment Rights of a museum were at stake.

About Dennis Barrie

Dennis Barrie, the Director of the Contemporary Arts Center from 1983-1991, will discuss how this crisis in the arts came about, how it tore apart a community, and how the trial played out. He will give insights into the impact it had on the national art scene, how it nearly destroyed the NEA, and the response of the museum world to controversy since that time.

The Mapplethorpe controversy remains one of the great battles of the continuing Culture Wars in American society. It is a frightening look at how intense and long-reaching those battles can be.

Dennis Barrie is director of cultural planning for Westlake Reed Leskosky, a museum-consulting firm. He was director of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center for eight years and was the first executive director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. In April, 1990 Dennis Barrie became the first American museum director to be criminally prosecuted for the contents of an exhibition. The exhibit was a Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective at the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center. Barrie and the Contemporary Arts Center were charged with “pandering obscenity” and showing minors in a state of nudity. A jury acquitted Barrie and the Arts Center of all charges.

Beyond “Body Worlds”: Ethics and the Public Display of Anatomical Specimens

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A lecture by Robert Juette, the second presentation in the Winter 2007 lecture series, Exhibiting Controversy: From Mapplethorpe to “Body Worlds” and Beyond.

“Body Worlds,” an exhibit developed by Gunther von Hagens, scientific director of the Institute for Plastination in Heidelberg, Germany, displays human bodies that have been flayed, injected with a silicon-like substance and posed running, swimming, fencing and horseback riding. Perhaps because of its morbid content, the exhibition has been a disturbing but popular show everywhere it has been exhibited. Dr. Robert Juette has written and spoken about this exhibition, others like it, and the ethics of publicly displaying human specimens.

In this lecture, Robert Juette will discuss the insufficient and fragmentary nature of European legislation that regulates the treatment of human remains held in collections, museums and public places. Dr. Juette will argue that the creation, preservation, collection and preparation of human remains for the purposes of presentation to professional and public audiences are permissible under law, and that this applies in particular to the communication of biological-medical, cultural, historical or otherwise significant facts. However, it is important that the dignity of the person must be respected at all stages of the creation, storage and presentation of the specimens.

About Robert Juette

Robert Juette is currently the Director of the Institute for the History of Medicine of the Robert Bosch Foundation and Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Stuttgart. From 1983 to 1989 he was Associate Professor at the Department of General History of the University of Haifa/Israel. He is a social and medical historian and the author or editor of over 30 books, the most recent a biography of the founder of homoeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). He is the editor of the medico-historical journal Medizin, Gesellschaft und Geschichte and the editor of Hahnemann’s case books. He is a member of the steering committee of the Scientific Board of the German Medical Association and vice-chairman of the board of advisers at the German Hygiene Museum in Dresden. In 2005, Juette was co-organizer of a symposium on “Law and Ethics of the Historical Display of Human Remains” held at University College, London.

Passion on All Sides: Planning a Memorial Museum at Ground Zero

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A lecture by Alice Greenwald, the third presentation in the Winter 2007 lecture series, Exhibiting Controversy: From Mapplethorpe to “Body Worlds” and Beyond.

Perhaps no proposed new museum has been under the spotlight more than the planned museum and memorial at the World Trade Center site. Alice Greenwald will offer a view of the highly-charged planning process for a memorial museum commemorating the events of September 11th, 2001, to be located at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. Until recently the Associate Museum Director for Museum Programs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., Ms. Greenwald will reflect on the lessons learned from her 19-year affiliation with the Holocaust Museum ““ another project forged out of controversy ““ that now inform the philosophical approach and methodologies being applied to World Trade Center Memorial Museum. Ms. Greenwald will variously explore the distinction between sites of memory and sites of conscience; the tensions that often erupt into controversy when the equally valid objectives of memorialization, public education, and urban re-development come into conflict; and, the very real challenges of accommodating multiple points of view into a coherent narrative when those affected by the subject of a museum remain traumatized by the very events that museum is charged to chronicle. Alice Greenwald’s presentation is the Winter 2007 Whitesell Lecture sponsored by the Museum Studies Program and The Bentley Historical Library.

About Alice Greenwald

Alice Greenwald’s previous experience at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum familiarized her with the complexities of navigating between survivors, historians, members of the public, and other stakeholders. Greenwald joined the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation in 2006 as Executive Vice-President for Programs and Director of the World Trade Center Memorial Museum. She is responsible for managing the creation of a vision for the planned World Trade Center Memorial Museum and for the eventual programming and operation of the museum. In this capacity, she has to respond to many stakeholders and steer a course between the concerns of relatives of 9/11 victims, security concerns, the need to memorialize, and the need to interpret.

Spoiling Public Spaces: Exhibiting Racist Artifacts in a Public Museum

Thursday, April 5, 2007

A lecture by David Pilgrim, the fourth presentation in the Winter 2007 lecture series, Exhibiting Controversy: From Mapplethorpe to “Body Worlds” and Beyond.

Using The Jim Crow Museum as an example, David Pilgrim will discuss the challenges and controversies involved in displaying racist objects in a museum. The Jim Crow Museum is a collection of more than 4,000 objects primarily, though not exclusively, objects that fall into these categories: segregation memorabilia, anti-Blacks caricatured objects, and white supremacy items. The museum uses these objects to teach about historical and contemporary patterns of race relations. These artifacts are, obviously, offensive to many visitors and necessitate that they be placed in the proper historical, social, and cultural contexts. This session will discuss the strategies used to display the objects in a manner that maximizes their potential as “teaching tools,” without trivializing or sensationalizing their offensiveness. Among the que! stions posed are these: “Are there items–for example, lynching postcards–that are too offensive to display?” “Should children be allowed to visit the museum and, if so, what conditions should surround their visit?” “What pre-visit preparation and post-visit debriefing should occur?”

About David Pilgrim

David Pilgrim bought his first racist object when he was 12 or 13 in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. After he bought the cheap Mammy saltshaker from the antique dealer, he threw it to the ground and shattered it. Pilgrim continued to buy racist objects throughout college, graduate school, and beyond, even though he found the objects disturbing to have around his house. In the 1990s, Pilgrim donated his collection to Ferris State University where he is a sociologist. His only condition was that the collection be displayed and preserved. Currently, Dr. Pilgrim is a professor in the Social Sciences Department and the founder, primary donor and curator of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University where, in addition to his academic responsibilities, he is responsible for collecting, researching, and displaying the artifacts in the museum. In 2006, he co-curated a traveling exhibit, “Them: Images of Separation,” that focuses on the oppression of women, Mexicans, Jews, Asians, and poor whites.

Hijacking History: Culture, Politics, and Exhibition at the Smithsonian

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A lecture by Kristin Hass, the fifth and final presentation in the Winter 2007 lecture series, Exhibiting Controversy: From Mapplethorpe to “Body Worlds” and Beyond.

Kristin Hass presents the National Museum of American History’s exhibit The Price of Freedom: Americans at War as a significant volley in the ongoing culture wars in the U.S. The exhibit marks a moment in which what can be said on the Mall in Washington DC is increasingly constrained and contained. Comparing the Price of Freedom to the exhibits that have long defined the kind of public history produced at the NMAH, such as A Nation of Nations, Field to Factory, and A More Perfect Union, Dr. Hass will argue that the cultural and institutional politics of the 21st century have redefined “history” and “public” at the museum and beyond.

In a close reading of the exhibition, Dr. Hass will discuss both the form of the exhibit and the rhetorical tropes that shape it. War, in the exhibit’s title and at every turn throughout the exhibit, is conflated with the noble pursuit of “freedom.” The exhibit is driven by a blind and sweeping narrative that connects the Indian Wars to the Vietnam War to the “conflict” in Iraq with an ill-defined idea – “Freedom.” The exhibit is able to do this because it holds a tight focus, literally and rhetorically, on the faces of the fighting men and women in these wars. The troubled logic of the exhibit reflects a dangerous conception of war as made sacred by the sacrifices of citizen soldiers. Dr. Hass will argue that the celebration of this logic at the NMAH marks a significant change in the making of public history in the U.S.

About Kristin A. Hass

Kristin A. Hass is an Assistant Professor in the Program in American Culture at the University of Michigan. Dr. Hass was the Assistant Director of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life from 1999 – 2004 and the Acting Director in 2002. She published her dissertation work as Carried to the Wall: American Memory and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1998 and continues to lecture, teach, and write about memory, publics, and memorialization. She holds a Ph.D. in American Studies and has worked in a number of historical museums including the National Museum of American History, and The Henry Ford.


Issues in Museum Studies

Conserving the Memory of District Six Issues of Heritage Management in Cape Town, South Africa

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ciraj Rassool, University of the Western Cape and African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies, Cape Town

The Museum recently applied to the South African Government for designation as a National Heritage Site. Becoming an official national cultural resource will certainly have an impact on the District Six Museum and its mission. In his talk, Dr. Rassool, one of the founders of the Museum, will consider the potential repercussions of the initiative on this dynamic community-based institution that, since its inception, has been a site of reflection on social and political transformation and citizenship education.

This event is organized by the Museum Studies Program and co-sponsored by the Institute for the Humanities, Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, and Institute for Historical Studies.

Community Museums of Kenya: A Paradigm Shift in the Concept of the Museum

Monday, September 18, 2006

Presented by Eustace Gitonga, Director, Community Museums of Kenya

Established during British colonial rule, late 19th and early 20th century Kenyan museums followed a European museum model. These pre-independence museums failed to incorporate indigenous ideas and traditions in their collecting practices, research agendas and displays. Instead, the museums represented the views of a select group, most often those of the white, British colonists. This failure to be responsive to the local communities resulted in a significant vacuum, which facilitated the birth of the Community Museums of Kenya (CMK) in 1999, an organization dedicated to developing and supporting museums in community settings. The first CMK museum, the Kipsaraman museum, opened in 2002 and the Lake Baringo Reptile Park opened the following year. In addition to founding museums and promoting community-specific projects, the CMK has sponsored archaeological expeditions and organized international workshops focusing on Hominid origins. As custodians of cultural heritage and exchange, the CMK has faced many challenges. This lecture, presented by Eustace Gitonga, a CMK founder and the organization’s Director, will consider the work of the CMK, and how it seeks collaborative partnerships with the international community to achieve its social, cultural and political goals.

New Media Technology in Archaeological Contexts: Potential Applications for Public Interpretation

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Presented by Douglas Gann, Preservation Archaeologist and Visualization Specialist, Center for Desert Archaeology, Tucson

The revolution in digital media production has provided archaeologists and museum designers with a vast array of new tools for sharing archaeological research and interpretation with an interested general public. This presentation will demonstrate applications of interactive multimedia and three-dimensional visualization in public archaeology, museum exhibition design and public urban planning contexts. Specific case studies will include presentations on ancestral Hopi architecture, ancestral Hopi and Zuni material culture, as well as Spanish and Mexican colonial history in the American Southwest.

This event is organized by the Museum Studies Program and cosponsored by the Museum of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Kelsey Museum of Classical Archaeology, Interdisciplinary Program in Classical Art and Archaeology, and the Virtual Reality Lab.