Leading up to the exhibit, The Stories Objects Tell, the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology hosted Open Collection Hours on Thursdays and Fridays in February and early March, allowing visitors from Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design to view the Institute’s Collection in person. Although the Collection is accessible online, Open Collection Hours allowed visitors to view and handle ancient objects in person.
The main impetus behind hosting the Hours was to allow those interested in submitting to The Stories Objects Tell to see the ancient artifacts at the building. The exhibit called for work inspired by archaeology and objects in the Collection, so we offered in-person visits as a source of inspiration to the artists. However, anyone was welcome to visit, and we enjoyed meeting with numerous faculty, staff, students, and members of the public.
The Collection of objects at the Joukowsky Institute includes a remarkable range of ancient ceramic vessels, lamps, figurines, lithics, sherds, and more. Although it is a teaching collection used for archaeological research and Brown University courses, the majority of the Collection is not on display but is stored in a locked vault in the basement of the Institute for security and collections care purposes. Part of my goal in organizing The Stories Objects Tell was to increase awareness on campus about the Collection and opportunities for the community to take courses, conduct research, attend events, and otherwise learn about the ancient world at the Joukowsky Institute. In initiating and hosting Open Collection Hours, it was our hope that students and other members of the Brown community could draw, sculpt, write, discuss, research, and discover these special objects created so many centuries ago.
During the Hours, I gave tours of the vault with Erynn Bentley, a PhD student in Archaeology and the Ancient World. It was very exciting to meet a number of visitors from Brown and RISD and learn about their various connections to art and archaeology. Some were interested in submitting work to the exhibit, and others were simply curious to see the remarkable Collection of ancient artifacts right here on College Hill. All of the visitors wished to know the stories behind the objects, including their original purposes, places of creation, and journeys to Providence, Rhode Island.
I met with two sculptors while hosting tours, one of whom worked at List Art Center and another who taught as a professor at Rhode Island School of Design. It was amazing to meet established artists who were inspired by the interesting shapes, textures, and materials of the objects in the Collection. Two other visitors did not study art but were excited to see a new space on campus after reading about the hours in [email protected] One student who made jewelry was especially excited to see the necklaces in the vault, and she ended up submitting a handmade necklace to The Stories Objects Tell.
Erynn shared that the visitors with whom she met were very curious about her research at the Institute. Interestingly, she noted that many learned about the Open Collection Hours by word of mouth from those who had viewed the Collection already. Erynn also described the benefits of allowing visitors to “make their own connections with the knowledge they have.” One visitor spoke Arabic and could translate some of the calligraphy on objects from the Minassian collection, and others discussed their experiences visiting Egypt, Israel, and other locations where the objects in the Collection originated.
The Open Collection Hours were a highlight of my time at the Joukowsky Institute, and it was a privilege to explore the Collection with my peers and other community members.