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September 29, 2011 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-09-29

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the b

-side

weekend
essentials
Sept. 29 to Oct. 2

D The Michigan Daily ( michigandaily.com I Thursday, September 29,2011

CONCERT
Tomorrow, the renais-
sance band Fleet Foxes
brings its trademark
baroque folk-pop to
the acoustic splendor
that is Hill Auditorium.
Touring behind their
sophomore hymn-
flecked album 'Help-
lessness Blues,' the
sextet is sure to recall
spooky reminiscences
of Crosby, Stills & Nash
and The Beach Boys.
Doors open at 7:30
p.m. Tickets from $34.

A peek inside the University's
public museums
Ni by J e rts Edit 4

BOOKS
Einstein and Newton
may have been nerd
geniuses, but that
doesn't mean you can't
be one too! Instead of
spending your Saturday
morning sleeping off
that hangover, learn a
little something about
the beauty of phys-
csa rom Profl, mp
F yMcKay e
at 10:30 a.m in 170
Dennison. If that's
not incentive for you,
there's free food a half
hour before lecture.

stands calcified as
M useuin The word
soon as it leaves your
lips, like Grecian col-
umns with straight-backed arches
and gilded chandeliers slinking
along the walls of the Louvre and the
Hermitage. It suggests impenetrabil-
ity. A slight, sneering inaccessibility.
Behind the exhibit is a sea of ster-
ile white. Objects and viewers are
divided by glass. Museums make us
uncomfortable, forcing us to. recon-
cile with the fact that the things we
have created can have a standing life
much, much longer than the human
race does.
Perspective plays a large role
in creating these biases, wheth-
er they're from a terrible child-
hood vacation or a grouchy curator
screaming at you to stay at least 10
feet awayfromthe exhibit. But muse-
ums are organic, living, changing
institutions. And each of the seven
public museums at the University -
the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology,
the University of Michigan Muse-
um of Art, the Sindecuse Museum
of Dentistry, the Exhibit Museum
of Natural History, the Matthaei
Botanical Gardens, the Nichols
Arboretum and the Detroit Obser-
vatory - challenges this definition
in several ways. Ultimately, these
establishments merely act as tools
of our self-signification, and what a
museum has to present has more to
do with what society expects from it
than what it expects of society.

The age of collecting
Though the relationship between
people and things has existed since
the beginning of time, the 18th-cen-
tury aesthetic of curatorial thought
was what gave rise to the modern
museum. The artists and painters of
the Age of Exploration viewed the
way their minds worked very much
like the collections they maintained
- fabulous collections that ranged
from rare butterflies to old coins,
botanical specimens to "suckling
pigs" (as Foucault introduced in his
preface to "The Order of Things") -
and ascribed a separate meaning to
the items they assembled and took
out of circulation. These collections
were eventually displayed to the
public and deemed "cabinets of curi-
osity."
"Youhave people traveling all over
the world, things coming to Europe,
things people had never seen before,"
said Prof. Ray Silverman, director of
the Museum Studies program at the
University. "And people admiring
them and putting them into these
rooms - jam-packed, creating these
incredible spectacles."
Context, the cloud of classifica-
tion that surrounds an object and
influences people's expectations of
it, evolved a little later. Darwin and
his contemporaries ushered in the
Age of Reason and influenced its
corresponding practices: grouping
the objects into taxonomies, being
See MUSEUMS, Page 4B

FILM
Maybe you support the
war in Afghanistan and
think we should stay.
Maybe you question
the legality of our for-
eign conflicts and think
we should bring them
all home. Filmmaker
and Michigan native
Heather Courtney doc-
uments the impact of
the war on soldiers in
her new documentary,
"Where Soldiers Come
From," showing at the
Michigan Theater this
Saturday at 7 p.m.
AT THE MIC
When Mark's Carts
announced that it
would be closing at the
beginning of Novem-
ber, foodies all around
Washtenaw County
heaved a collective sigh
and yearned for spring
to come again. With
only a month left until
its impending hiatus,
you can still enjoy the
jumping beats of West
African group Purple
Green Flavor tomorrow
evening from 7 to 9
p.m. in the courtyard.

Ithink that museums
are places where we
form memories and
find inspiration.
-Kira Berman, Director of
Education at the Exhibit
Museum of Natural History
PHOTOS BY HANNAH CHIN, JAMES WEAVER AND TODD NEEDLE
DESIGN BY KRISTI BEGONJA AND K.C. WASSMAN

p

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