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Research Guides@Tufts

Tufts University Art Galleries: re:imagining collections.: Exhibition Overview

Jan 24 - Apr 23, 2023. Medford and Boston

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All collections tell a story; both through their individual objects, and through their broader cumulative histories. A collection has the capacity to reflect the goals, people, and power structures that guided how these works were acquired and stewarded. As dynamic entities, museum collections need to be assessed as products of institutional, cultural, and global networks. 

For re:imagining collections, five artists, Ali Cherri, Nicole Cherubini, NIC Kay, and SANGREE, were invited respond to Meso-American and Mediterranean antiquities in the Tufts University Permanent Collection. Each artist developed new artistic reactions inspired by the collection, considering the ethical and moral implications of relevant museological frameworks. 

These sources provide background information on the artists in re:imagining collections, as well as relevant contextual information:  the history and ethics of collecting, key terms, and other artists who have intervened in similar ways. As you explore, think about what responsibilities Tufts has to its collections and its audiences. How might these sources inform your perceptions of collections, museums, display, and their interrelated power structures? 

Nicole Cherubini

Nicole Cherubini, Shaking the Trees, 2020 at Tang Teaching Museum

Nicole Cherubini, Shaking the Trees, 2020 at Tang Teaching Museum

SANGREE

 SANGREE, The Grand Design, 2017 at Yautepec, Mexico City

SANGREE, The Grand Design, 2017 at Yautepec, Mexico City

Ali Cherri

 Ali Cherri, Somniculus, 2017. Video HD, color, sound, 14’40”.

Ali Cherri, Somniculus, 2017. Video HD, color, sound, 14’40”.

NIC Kay

NIC Kay, Performance still from pushit!!, at Acre Projects, Chicago, 2017

NIC Kay, Performance still from pushit!!, at Acre Projects, Chicago, 2017

Key Questions/Questions for Self-Guided Exploration:

What responsibilities do museums have to both their publics and the cultures they display?  

Whom do museums benefit? How can museums be more inclusive?   

How is cultural heritage constructed by museums? By individuals? 

What stories might museums be missing? What do the gaps in a collection say about an institution’s histories?  

In what ways can artistic interventions enact change within institutions?  

What would it take to decolonize museums? What are the differences between repatriation and decolonization?  

A “universal museum” aims to collect objects from all human cultures. How does the museum mediate objects and what is at stake in “universal museum” displays?