Unnatural History: Colonial Collecting and the Politics of Display in Natural History Museums
Sunday, March 20, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
A Presentation with Elaine Ayers, Ph.D.
What does the history of collecting, preservation, and display have to do with legacies of violence and inequity? How do shifting categories of race, gender, and sexuality appear throughout natural history museums, even in seemingly innocuous objects like plants and insects? By unraveling the long colonial history of the institutions that we care for and work with, from herbaria to anthropological exhibits, this talk will point to the instabilities of collecting and collections from the eighteenth century to the present while offering hope for new, more inclusive ways forward.
Elaine Ayers is a faculty member in the Program in Museum Studies and an affiliate of the Program in the History of Science at NYU, where she works on the entangled histories of science, art, and collecting. She received her Ph.D. in the History of Science from Princeton University, and her work has been supported by institutions like the New York Botanical Garden, the Yale Center for British Art, the NSF, and Stanford University.
This program is produced in partnership with the Staten Island Archaeological Society.
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