Have you ever found yourself wondering what goes on behind the display case? Curious about what museum employees actually do beyond dusting off old artifacts, and putting up “no touching” signs? I certainly have.
My name is Theo Koda, and I am a student of Anthropology at Brown University. This summer I am a registration intern at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology. My time here is devoted to the documentation of a collection of African objects — as well as the execution of any other tasks that need my attention. This collection was acquired by the donor in 1964-65 while he was working in Gabon with the Peace Corps. It is filled with fascinating objects, but it also contains extensive records of his training, trip, and collection efforts. These enrich the collection — adding much needed context to already intriguing materials. Continue reading
Hannah Sisk, Freshman year at Brown (2009)
It was early in the fall of my first year at Brown – muggy and overcast (nothing like the crisp New England autumns I had eagerly anticipated!). A few weeks into the semester, I had some time between classes on the Main Green and found myself outside Manning Hall. I had peeked into the Haffenreffer gallery before, after a campus tour as a prospective student, but hadn’t gone through the space on my own. In that precious hour between seminars, the gallery presented itself as a cool refuge from the humidity outside, but, more importantly, as a welcoming and intellectual space that ultimately shaped my time at Brown and my career pursuits since. Continue reading
All Things Related
Hail at the Brooklyn Museum when consultant for TIPI exhibit, 2011.
In 1955 the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology transformed from a private collection with few viewers to a university museum with a diversified audience and a profound commitment to the indigenous peoples, world-wide, whose artifacts the museum held. Douglas Anderson embedded this philosophy into our first mission statement, writing that we have a responsibility to the communities from whom our collections have come. Continue reading
Thirty-five years ago I moved from the Northwest to the Northeast and began a job in the Education Department at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, MA. I was hired because I was a singer of sea songs and the Museum had a glorious collection of art and artifacts related to New England’s maritime trades. Founded by sea captains as the East India Marine Society in 1799, the PEM was both really old for an American museum and extraordinarily diverse in the geographical range of the collections. Salem mariners went everywhere a ship could go, and the items in their museum reflected that.
In the first few days of my sophomore year at Brown, I sat down for a meeting with Matthew Gutmann, then the undergraduate advisor for the department of Anthropology, to review my coursework plans as a newly-declared concentrator. We discussed my interests and the fact that I was also concentrating in the History of Art and Architecture, and Professor Gutmann told me that there was a class I needed to take. He warned me that the professors might not seem inclined to give me a spot, since I was young and it was a graduate seminar, but that I should talk my way into the room no matter what.