“Animals on Display: Transforming Exhibition Traditions in Natural History and Science Museums”

December 12 1:00-2:30 PM 303 Paterson Hall, Carleton University.

John Berger, critic and writer, famously said that “in the last two centuries, animals have gradually disappeared.” Those who share his view contend that animals have been removed from our daily lives and that we have been removed from the daily lives of animals. At the same time, a plethora of new museum representational practices have arisen that, broadly conceived, work to fill in the gap between humans and animals. Ironically, many of these may ultimately intensify the very nostalgia, distance, and ignorance they were devised to remedy. This talk will look at a range of examples of animals on display, situated in various historical and sociocultural contexts, in order to speak to the ongoing and important role of museums in making animals visible.

Karen Rader is Associate Professor of History and Director of the STS [Science, Technology, and Society] Program at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. She recently co-edited a collection of essays entitled Animals on Display: Reflections on the Creaturely in Museums, Zoos, and Natural History (Penn State UP, 2013) with a group of scholars from the University of Oslo. She is also the author of Making Mice: Standardizing Animals for American Biomedical Research 1900-1955 (Princeton UP, 2004) and Life on Display: Revolutionizing US Museums of Science and Natural History in the Twentieth Century (U. Chicago UP, 2014).

The Shannon Lectures in History is a series of thematically linked public lectures offered annually at Carleton University made possible through the Shannon Donation, a major anonymous gift from a friend of the Department of History