11/2/14 Bristol Visit

The trip served as a great way for us to familiarize ourselves more with the history of the museum and with its resources. Geralyn and Nathan Arndt, Assistant Curator, were kind enough to teach us about the history of the Haffenreffer and gave us a tour of the museum’s collection. They also showed us the historical site of King Philip’s Seat on Mount Hope, which is located on the museum’s grounds. After engaging with the Haffenreffer collection in person, we now have a much clearer idea of how we might approach a “History of Beer” exhibition, and we returned to Providence with even more ideas for the future of the museum.

10/28/14 Meeting Minutes

During our October 28th meeting, the student group finalized the logistics of our trip to the Haffenreffer’s Bristol site on Sunday, November 2nd. We also discussed our plans for a Docent Program, and Kaitlyn will be speaking to Geralyn Ducady, the museum’s Curator of Programs and Education, about this project. We hope to develop a script and tour ideas over the winter holiday and begin offering tours next semester. Tours might also include a Culture Lab component, and we hope to begin making use of the Culture Lab resource in other ways as well.

Next, we solidified more details of our Movie Night, which will be taking place on Thursday, November 20th at 8 pm on the first floor of the Haffenreffer Museum (also known as Manning Hall). We have yet to finalize which movie will be screened, but it will most likely be an action film along the lines of something from the Indiana Jones series. We have also contacted the Joukowsky Institute to inquiry about obtaining movie rights. Kaitlyn mentioned that Luke might know more about this since he is involved with the Ivy Film Festival (IFF). In any case, once we have confirmed a film choice we will seek approval of it from the museum staff.

Students interested in promoting Movie Night will be able to sign up for positions via email—some ideas mentioned at the meeting included designing a simple paper slip and/or poster, and submitting a blurb on the event for Brown Morning Mail. We are aiming to have the poster design completed by November 10th or 11th. We also discussed more detailed logistics of the event itself—we need to decide between offering seating to guests or inviting them to bring their own blankets and sleeping bags, as well whether or not we should offer programs and popcorn/movie theater candy to attendees. We may be able to rent chairs through the Student Center, and we know that students involved with IFF may know about getting popcorn. There is also a Residential Life popcorn machine in Jameson lounge. Other snacks might simply be purchased from a store like CVS. We must additionally plan to announce important safety information (as well as an introduction to the student group) before the start of the screening, and submit a proposal to receive funds for the event soon.

Lastly, we discussed taking a group trip to visit Boston museums, possibly for a day during reading period of this semester, or at another time next semester.

10/14/14 Meeting Minutes

During our first meeting of the year, we addressed some items carried over from last school year, as well as future plans for the group. In regard to older business, we discussed finalizing work with the Culture Lab, as well as beginning to put together a “History of Beer” exhibit, as the museum’s founder Rudolph Haffenreffer once ran the Haffenreffer Brewery. This exhibit could also be presented as part of the Haffenreffer’s 60th anniversary celebrations, and our hope is that it would especially attract members of the student body.

Looking ahead, the student group plans to take a day trip to the Haffenreffer’s Bristol site on Sunday, November 2nd. We are also planning to hold a movie night on November 20th, and are in the process of coordinating further logistics of the event. Finally, we discussed the possibility of taking a trip to Boston, seeing as we could visit museums there for free with our Haffenreffer Museum membership.

Minutes from the September 11th meeting–our first one of the year!

The Haffenreffer Museum Student Group’s first meeting of the year was held on September 11th, serving as a general introduction to the group and the group’s plans for the year, with a special focus on the upcoming Cameroon exhibit.

Laura began with a quick introduction to the group and what we did with a slideshow that she had put together.  We then began brainstorming for the coming semester/year.  Proposed events, some of which the group has previously held, include a gala, movie nights, a speaker series, trips to local museums/historical libraries, kids’ days, and evening open hours.  These extended hours would serve to allow greater access to the museum for those who are busy during normal opening hours, and would potentially also serve as the biweekly meetings of the HMSG.

We then got into the details of the upcoming exhibit, previously known as Rulership and Revelry: Images of Power in Grasslands Cameroon, which will be opening on November 15th.  This may seem to be far in the future (or not, depending on your perspective…), but we have a very strict timeline to follow in order to have everything be ready on time.

First, we went over changes that had been made to the plan for the exhibit since the last meeting of the group/over the summer: some objects have been changed, the theme was refined, and the CultureLab wall was added.  We then discussed how the delegation of tasks was going to unfold—whether individuals would be responsible for certain things, if panels would be the result of group efforts, etc.

Next, Laura explained the plans for each individual panel, which will be as follows:

A: Introduction

B: Geography and Regional Identity

C: Stools and Rulership

D: Pillars and Window Frames—Creating Space

E: Ndop (perhaps to be combined with Panel D)

F: Commoner’s Stool

G: Palm Wine Gourds

H: European-style Chair and Colonialism in Cameroon.

Finally, we spent some time working out what the new title will be, and ended up with “Images of Power: Rulership in the Grasslands of Cameroon”.  We also began writing a first draft of the PR blurb, which was due on the 16th.

Our next meeting will be with the museum staff on Friday the 27th at 2pm, in the museum, to talk about label guidelines and exhibit layout.

Things to keep in mind: If you haven’t already, please fill out the when2meet that Laura sent out so that we can set up an official meeting time.  Please sign up to write a CultureLab label if possible, and don’t forget to keep adding any research to the GoogleDocs. Also, get your museum membership if you haven’t yet—as a Brown/RISD student it’s free, and it gets you into over 200 museums in the US, Canada, and abroad for free or reduced admission.

Exhibits Committee Meeting, 11/27 + A Night at the Haffenreffer on Saturday 12/1!

On November 27th, members of the Exhibits Committee met with a huge endeavor: narrowing a selection of 43 objects down to just 6 to 8 for our upcoming African stools exhibit. We went through all the images Geralyn and Thierry sent us, and discussed what objects would best relate to the themes of our exhibit. We also had the option to put any additional objects we liked in the CultureLab, so we had a little more flexibility with the number of objects we could request.

We looked for stools that exemplified themes such as class and iconography. For
example, the portability of stools is a big indicator of gender: men’s stools tend to be lighter, whereas women’s stools were heavier and not meant to be moved. We chose stools that illustrate these differences clearly, and are also appealing to the eye. Stools that might not fit in to our larger themes will be put in CultureLab so visitors can see more examples of the diversity of African stools, along with smaller objects, such as a sword and a comb with stools carved on them. Another interesting addition to our exhibit will be a colorful parasol Thierry selected from the collections. It should add a nice pop of color to the whole exhibit—maybe even a color theme?

While we narrowed down the list pretty effectively, we want to do a little more research on specific objects to see which pairings make more sense. If some of the objects we intended to represent one theme are more appropriate in another pairing, we’ll switch up some of the objects to make them relate better to the larger exhibit. Geralyn left some articles and books in the CultureLab for reference, but we will also consult Thierry to see which objects make most sense for the exhibit.

In attendance:
Ana Colón
Laura Berman
Hannah Sisk
Chris Piazza
Christina DiFabio
Andrew Huckins-Noss

Also, don’t forget: tomorrow, December 1st from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., will be our big gala, “A Night at the Haffenreffer: An Evening Soirée.” Zal and Ariana organized this lovely event, and we hope tons of people will make it! There will be music, refreshments, and interesting things to look at. We hope to see you there! Sponsored by the Late Night Fund, organized by the Haffenreffer Museum Student Group.


Meet the Postdoc: Jennifer Stampe


Jennifer Stampe, taking a break in North Beach during the recent American Anthropological Association meeting in San Francisco.

Hello Haffenreffer Museum Student Group members!

I am Jennifer Stampe, and I’m at Brown this year as
Postdoctoral Fellow in Anthropology, with duties at the Haffenreffer.
I have previously taught Museum Studies at New York University and
Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, where I earned my PhD.
My teaching and research interests center on the cultural politics of
indigeneity.  Specifically, I look at American Indian
self-representation in museums and tourist sites, examining indigenous
priorities and interests, on the one hand, and asking how non-Natives
respond to new representations, on the other.  I am developing an
approach that understands indigenous self-representation as an effort
to hail, and indeed construct, a new kind of non-Native subject, one
who will be a sympathetic ally of indigenous assertion.

For my dissertation, I did ethnographic fieldwork in residence at the
Mille Lacs Ojibwe Reservation in central Minnesota.  The Ojibwe are
the third largest indigenous group in the United States; the Mille
Lacs Band won a landmark Supreme Court decision in 1999, when its
treaty-reserved rights to hunt, fish, and gather on ceded lands
without state interference were upheld.  At the same time that the
Band faced the state in court, it collaborated with the state
historical society to make a “state Indian museum” located on the
reservation into something more like a tribal museum, at a time when
the recent tribal museum movement was at its beginning.  The
redesigned Mille Lacs Indian Museum presents Ojibwe history in an
Ojibwe curatorial voice, foregrounding Band members’ own words, to
tell a story about indigenous survival.  But some problems in
interpretation remain, mostly centered on the museum’s Four Seasons
Room, a lifesize diorama of the Ojibwe industrial year.  The exhibit
is an immersive and sensory experience, an account of the past, that
threatens to trump the museum’s intended message that Ojibwe people
are still here.  My research focuses on the diverse and complex ways
that museum visitors understand this exhibit, given the larger context
of contest over treaty rights.  I also examine the intersection of
this project in representation with others at Mille Lacs, including a
public relations campaign and nascent human rights movement.  The book
I’m working on about these issues embraces a broad range of concerns,
including nationalism and tribal sovereignty, identity and
subjectivity, and power and decolonizing practice.

I am really happy to be at Brown, and have enjoyed a fall term without
teaching responsibilities.  But I’m looking forward to getting back to
the classroom in the Spring, when I’ll teach Anthropology in/of the
Museum.  The class will examine the history of anthropology, moving
from ts early years and so-called “museum age” through the more recent
crisis of representation on to current efforts at collaboration.  The
class will draw on the Haffenreffer’s collections, and will to be
organized around a series of projects that will act as a museum
practicum: these will include exercises on object, photo and archive,
and visitor research.  I expect to tailor the work of the class to
students’ interests.  Please feel free to get in touch if you are
thinking about taking the class, or if there’s anything else I can do
for you.

If you’d like to get in touch with Jennifer Stampe, you can contact her via e-mail at jennifer_stampe@brown.edu.

Pictures from our trip to Bristol

Here are some of the pictures that our student group president, Laura Berman, took during a visit to the collections in Bristol! These are the images we used to brainstorm possible themes for the exhibit. All of the stools are from Africa, and the more stylized stools with a curved top are Ashanti. 







All images taken by Laura Berman.