Museum Visions

Museums are complex, paradoxical spaces, where relations of power and authoritative knowledge are continuously asserted, even as they are struggled over and at times radically transformed. Museums must face up to the tragic and often compromised history of the museum system, which tended to naturalize hierarchical relations in domains of society and nature, and often marginalized subaltern communities.

Finding our Voice: Sister Survivors Speak. MSU Museum. 2019-20.

Yet, at their best, museums can can fire the dreams and imaginations of those who had thought themselves excluded from their precincts. Community members can find their voices through collaborative partnerships and projects of creative co-creation, reinterpreting existing museum collections and helping guide new practices of collection and curation. Such approaches explore and honor holistic understandings of persons, places, and environments, attentive to the complex processes of meaning-creation embedded in land and non-elite modes of being in the world. This inclusive enterprise is founded on mutual respect for indigenous systems of knowledge and modern science and seeks to transcend conventional oppositions between “nature” and “culture,” “subject’ and “object,” and “expert” and “layperson.” Museums, in short, can and should be sites of endless surprise, play, dialogue, and even of joy.

Mark Auslander’s Writings on Museums

2019. Museums as Sites of Healing. Developing the exhibition “Finding our Voice: Sister Survivors Speak” (co-authored with Amanda Thomashow) Museums, the journal of the American Alliance of Museums. October/November issue

2018. “Putting them in museums? Reimagining a Way Forward” (Confederate Monuments Roundtable) Museum Anthropology, Vol. 41, Iss. 2, pp. 137–39

2017. In Search of the Plaza: Mass Evictions, a Precarious Public Sphere and a Museum-Community Partnership (lead author). Centre for Imaginative Ethnography (September)

2016. “Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria” at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Arts. Exhibition review, African Arts 49, 1 (Spring 2016_

2015 Between Night and Day: Exhibiting Homelessness in Ellensburg, WA. Centre for Imaginative Ethnography (co-authored with J. Hope Amason, Alexander McCrary, Brittany

2013 Touching the Past: Materializing Time in Traumatic Living History Reenactments, Signs and Society. 1 (1). pp.161-183

2012. Enslaved Labor and Building the Smithsonian: Reading the Stones. Southern Spaces. December 2012.

Mark Auslander’s Exhibitions (organized and overseen)

2019. Finding our Voice: Sister Survivors Speak, Michigan State University Museum. Oversaw this community co-curated exhibition project, working with sister survivors of the Larry Nassar sexual violence crisis. Included special K-12 educational programs on consent and bodily autonomy, and a year long public programs series for adult son neuroscience, trauma and recovery.

2019. Between Absence and Presence: The Arpilleras Movement in Chile (with Marjorie Agosin, co-curator ) Michigan State University Museum.

2018 Martian Design Studio: Planning for Life on Mars. Oversaw community STEM learning project with at risk teenage young women designing a Martian city, In partnership with Girls 2020, a community STEM learning organization emphasizing coding and hands-on science and math learning.

2017 The Things We Carry: Objects and Moving Stories. Museum of Culture and Environment, Central Washington University

2017. Stellar: The Formation of Stars. Museum of Culture and Environment, Central Washington University (under development with guest scientific curator Cassandra Falter ) Strong emphasis on hands on inquiry into the electromagnetic spectrum and exploration by K-12 visitors on unsolved mysteries in astrophysics and star formation regions.

2016 Tapestries of Hope: The Arpilleras Movement in Chile. Museum of Culture and Environment, Central Washington University.

2016. Liberty Denied: Immigration Detention Deportation. (Co-curated with Susan Noyes Platt.) Museum of Culture and Environment, Central Washington University.

2016 Visions of the Miraculous: Retablos and Ex Votos from Mexico. Museum of Culture and Environment, Central Washington University. (Guest cura tor: Antonio Sanchez)

2016. Welcome to the Kuiper Belt: New Discoveries from New Horizons. Museum of Culture and Environment, Central Washington University. (Developed with guest scientific curator Bruce Palmquist) An exhibition designed for K-12 audiences, emphasizing pattern recognition and inquiry-based sci ence learning

2015 Binding Culture: Living Landscapes and Material Life in Northern Luzon, Philippines (supervised exhibition developed by guest curator Ellen Schattschneider)

2014. How did the cougar cross the road? Restoring Wildlife Passages in Snoqualmie Pass. Museum of Culture and Environment, Central Washington University. (April-December). Primary organizer. This innovative exhibition exposed pre K and K-12 visitors to a major wildlife pas sage bridge in Washington state, with hands on inquiry activities on ge netic exchange, genetic drift, biological resilience and climate change, in cluding a wildlife puppet theater.

2014. Migration, Now. Installed and developed community programming on Latino migration for artistic portfolio organized by Fabiana Rodriguez and Roger Peet, Just Seeds Collective

2013 Where There’s Smoke: Living with Fire, Museum of Culture and Environment, Central Washington University. (Supervised exhibition developed by J. Hope Amason)

2013. Voices of the River: Life along the Yakima. Museum of Culture and Environment, Central Washington University. January-June. Emerged out of community partnerships with Yakama native youth and elders, emphasizing sustainable environmental restoration projects that integrate indigenous and university-based scientific insights.

2012 Gifts of the Earth: Nature and Tradition in Native American Arts. University Reception Center, Central Washington University

2012 Remembering Dar (Memorial installation of the chimpanzee Dar es Salaam). Co-curated with Mary Lee Jensvold, Lynn Bethke, and Hope Amason. Museum of Culture and Environment, Central Washington University.

In my Shoes: Stories about Life from the Bottom Up. [Fifteen women and men in Kittitas County narrate their life stories, through their shoes] Museum of Culture and Environment, Central Washington University

Particles on the Wall; Art, Poetry and Science from the Hanford Nuclear Site {Reconceptualized and redesigned, in partnership with the Washington Physicans for Social Responsibility] Museum of Culture and Environment, Central Washington.

2005 In Memory’s Grove: The work of Keith Washington and Kevin Sipp. Paintings and installation work exploring memories of lynching and racial violence in the American South. (Dreitzer Gallery, Brandeis University, September-October)

2004 Trans/Scripts: The Art of Victor Ekpuk. Explored the artistic development of a significant Nigerian contemporary artist, with attention to his innovative use of scripts and writing systems associated with secret societies. (Slosberg Music Center Gallery, Brandeis University, October 11-November 10)

2004. Assemblies: New Art from South Africa. (Co-curated with Pamela Allara and Kyle Kauffman) Installation work and paintings by Neo Matome, Paul Stopforth, Kim Berman and Stompie Selibe. (Dreitzer Gallery, Brandeis University, October 18-29)

2004. Materiality and Personhood. (Co-curated with Richard Parmentier, Ellen Schattschneider and Javier Urcid) Incorporated works from the Brandeis ethnographic art collection. (Department of Anthropology, Brandeis University, September 23-December 5)

Supervised student-curated exhibits

2012. No Place Untouched by War: The Second World War and the Central Washington College of Education  Central Washington University (faculty supervisor, student-curated)

2011. Through the Rabbit Hole: A Journey into Imaginary Worlds  Museum of Culture and Environment, Central Washington University (faculty supervisor, student-curated)

2011. Archaeologists “Dig” Central: Excavating the CWU Campus.  Museum of Culture and Environment, Central Washington University (faculty supervisor, student-curated)

University.  This innovative  STEM/STEAM exhibition integrated nuclear physics, biophysics, poetry and art to engaged learners of all ages in exploring the long term impact of nuclear weapons production. 

2011 The Imaginarium (Tall tale dioramas, for which museum audience members are invited to propose captions.) Museum of Culture and Environment, Central Washington University (faculty supervisor, student-curated)

2010 The Transparency of Stone: New Art from South Africa’s Robben Island. (Schwartz Gallery, Brandeis University) Course-curated 

2006-09 Leave the Bones and Catch the Land: Southern Sudanese Art from Kakuma Refugee Camp. (Collaboratively curated with students in my Anth 159a class, Dreitzer Gallery and Goldfarb Library, Brandeis University, Fall 2006. Additional installation at Tufts University, February 2007; Harvard University, Fall 2009)

2002 Protesting Racial Violence: Andrew Sledd, Warren Candler and Anti-Lynching Politics in Georgia. This exhibition, developed with my students, examined the career and legacies of an Emory faculty member, fired in 1902 for public opposition to lynching. (Pitts Theology Library, Emory University)

2001 A Dream Deferred: African Americans in Emory and Oxford Colleges, 1836-1968. This exhibition, emerging out of archival and oral historical work with the local African-American community, examined the impact of slavery, reconstruction and segregation in the history of Emory College. Developed with my Anthro 385 (Cultures of the African Diaspora) students. (The Hoke O’Kelly Library, Oxford College of Emory University, April 1-May 30, 2001. Re-opened January 15-March 1, 2002 in Special Collections, Woodruff Library, Emory University)

2000 Tragic Beauty: Exploring the Oxford African-American Cemetery. Developed with my students. (The Hoke O’Kelly Library, Oxford College of Emory University, May 5-June 1; and the Newton County Library,August 1-September 1). Collaboratively curated with my students and the African American community in Oxford, Georia. 

%d bloggers like this: