Jenks Society for Lost Museums

The Jenks Society for Lost Museums consisted of students and faculty from the Public Humanities program working collaboratively with other members of Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the greater Providence community. 

Through a partnership with renowned artist Mark Dion, the Jenks Society creatively reconstructed and reimagined the past, present, and future of Brown University’s lost museum of natural history and anthropology. This multi-faceted project presented a unique opportunity for Public Humanities grad students to come together with fellow scholars and enthusiasts in celebration of what was once lost being found again. 

The Jenks Society contributes both original research and new perspectives on a little-known facet of Brown’s history, opening the door for conversations about interdisciplinary collaboration, the role of museums in teaching and preserving history and culture, and art’s ability to inspire questions of objective reality versus subjective experience. The Lost Museum exhibition, which illuminates the history of the museum, the story of its eccentric curator, and its enduring legacy, was open to the public May 1, 2014 through May 2015 in Rhode Island Hall, the Jenks Museum’s original home. 

In spring 2014, as a concluding event to the Lost Museum exhibit on campus, the Center joined with faculty and students at Brown and RISD to sponsor Lost Museums: A Symposium on the Ephemerality & Afterlives of Museums & Collections, a two day meeting that included tours as well as presentations by thirty curators, scholars, and artists.

Visit www.jenksmuseum.wordpress.com for more information on the Society, their project, and the Jenks Museum. 

Lily Benedict, inspecting a drawer of specimens on a Jenks Society field trip to  the Harvard MCZ.Lily Benedict, inspecting a drawer of specimens on a Jenks Society field trip to the Harvard MCZ.Mark Dion and Jamie Topper documenting the Jenks Society trip to the  Harvard MCZ.Mark Dion and Jamie Topper documenting the Jenks Society trip to the Harvard MCZ.

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