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10 black geological specimens laid out on white background

Art, Object, Specimen

On View January 4 – October 3, 2021

Art and Science as Storytelling
Thursday, February 18, 2021 | 4:30 pm–6:00 pm

We encounter objects in many different places—at home, in an art museum, on a shelf in a store, in a laboratory—and each of these places comes with certain expectations and beliefs. Where do these expectations come from, and how do they align with the original function of the objects in our sight? How different does an object look in a bookcase at home versus in a glass case in a gallery? This exhibition explores these questions by addressing a fundamental yet most often invisible assumption behind museum work: objects are transformed by how and where they are displayed.

Art, Object, Specimen features many different types of objects, all drawn from the collections of the Benton Museum of Art and Pomona College. Including paintings, photographs, geologic specimens, basketry, beadwork, snuff bottles, and even a cribbage board, the exhibition offers interpretive texts that address the fluidity of the categories named in the exhibition title. By considering questions of display and narrative frame, viewers can challenge themselves to consider what distinguishes art from object and object from specimen.

Sam Chan ’22, D’Maia Curry, Post-Baccalaureate Fellow for Research and Programs, Noor Tamari ’22, and Kali Tindell-Griffin ’22 with the mentorship of Victoria Sancho Lobis, Sarah Rempel and Herbert S. Rempel ’23 Director and Claire Nettleton, Academic Curator.

The exhibition was developed with the support of the Remote Alternative Independent Summer Experience (RAISE) program and the Judith A. Cion ’65 Fund in Endowment for Student-Curated Exhibitions.