Ivan Gaskell, professor of cultural history and museum studies at the Bard Graduate Center, New York City, will discuss the display of objects in museum spaces.
A cultural historian, Gaskell looks at what it might mean for things, both ostensibly natural and artificial, to have life. Can certain human-made things have life in some sense, and how might such things relate to the sacred or numinous realms, especially when exhibited in museums and elsewhere? Considering a wide range of material from various cultures and time periods—Niitsítapi (Blackfoot) shirts, Mi’Kmaq baskets, Hawai’ian heiau (temple) figures, Russian Orthodox icons, and Spanish Roman Catholic statues—Gaskell proposes variable worlds in which the character of life itself varies, and the pertinent question for those concerned with exhibiting the sacred is not “What is the sacred?” so much as “When is the sacred?”
His lecture is part of the “Exhibiting the Sacred” series, co-sponsored by Hamilton’s Art, Art History, Religious Studies and History departments, and the Wellin Museum.