Public Humanities Blog

The Peripatetic Malasada

January 8, 2020

Growing up in New Bedford, Massachusetts, I enjoyed a fried and sugarcoated pastry creation called a “malasada,” especially popular at the annual Feast of the Blessed Sacrament, the largest Portuguese cultural festival in the world, held in the heavily working class North End of New Bedford. While away at college, I missed malasadas and bragged about them incessantly. I was a malasada booster, a malasada chauvinist, but I lacked sharable proof. Malasadas don’t travel well. They are best eaten warm out of a paper bag that absorbs the excess grease.

Looking Beyond Fortune: The Life and Legacy of Doris Duke

December 3, 2019

Rough Point is a little different than other mansions-turned-house-museums along Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island. Rather than offering the chance to wander through gilded parlors, with all the glamor and excess of the “Robber Baron” era, Rough Point exists as it did in the last days of Doris Duke (1912-1993), the sole heir to a family whose fortune was made in mainly in tobacco (most lucrative investment: Lucky Strike cigarettes).

Report from the Field: Preservation and the Public Humanities

October 25, 2019

I just got back from Denver, where the annual conference of the National Trust for Historic Preservation was held, with one thought: the field of preservation needs the public humanities.  I attended panel discussions on “preservation equity;” on preservation and community engagement; on new initiatives in preserving and interpreting sites of Native, African American and women’s history; and the field’s increasing attention to urban sites and stories.  In every session I attended over two days, preservationists on stage and in the audience – often to applause – spoke of their sense that the

How Vincent van Gogh Loved London—An Exhibition Review of "Van Gogh and Britain"

October 9, 2019

On this past March 27th, the first day of Van Gogh and Britain, people started lining up at the entrance of Tate Britain well before the opening time and I was among those eagerly waiting to enter. Although it was something of a last-minute decision, I opted to make this journey to London over our spring break. I was ready to visit a variety of museums there, but the Tate was definitely the most exciting stop for me.

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Ancient Egypt: From Discovery to Display

September 17, 2019

I have visited the Penn Museum on a number of occasions: as a student growing up just outside of Philadelphia, as a professional museum educator, and as a patron who enjoys archeological artifacts. With these connections, it is not surprising that a new temporary exhibition of the Egypt collection would interest me. Mummies draw a crowd, so when the Penn Museum began to reinterpret and reinstall the Egyptian collection, the Museum used the opportunity to present a temporary and smaller installation focusing on different aspects of museum work specific to their material.