The Center for Pubic Humanities maintains an active program of exhibitions developed by Brown University students, faculty and staff, and by artists and humanities practitioners from the Providence area and beyond.  Many of our exhibitions are conceived and curated by students for course credit.  The Center for Public Humanities often participates in Providence’s Gallery Night, and its exhibitions have been reviewed in Art New England, the Providence Journal and on Rhode Island Public Radio.  For information about proposing an exhibition in the Carriage House Galleries or in the Nightingale-Brown House, please visit the  Gallery page.

Gallery Hour: Monday-Friday, 10am - 4pm (except holidays and winter break)

Upcoming and Ongoing Exhibitions

IMG_0061_0_0.jpegIn the Absence of: A Collective Biography Through Speculative Archaeology (December 7, 2022 - January 20, 2023)

This exhibit brings the artifacts of early republic Providence, c. 1790-1830 to life through mixed-media art. Visitors will enter the home of a typical lower-income Providence family and explore material culture, community relationships and the role of debt in everyday life. Curated by Traci Picard (MA’23), it is a final project for the class Public Amnesias and Their Discontents: Theories and Practices of Remembering.


Past Exhibitions

Inheritance-Conference_Slide_0.jpegLes Vues d’Amérique du Nord: Artists Respond (April 28 - September 30, 2022)

Les Vues d’Amérique du Nord: Artists Respond (2021-2023) is an artist residency inviting two Rhode Island-based artists, Jazzmen Lee-Johnson and Deborah Spears Moorehead, to create site-specific artworks that respond to the Center for Public Humanities’ historic wallpaper, Les Vues d’Amérique du Nord. 

Lee-Johnson’s residency culminates in Not Never More, a series of prints installed in the Public Humanities Center from April 28 – September 10, 2022.  Lee-Johnson is a visual artist, scholar, composer, and curator. Her practice centers on the interplay of animation, printmaking, music, and dance, informed by a yearning to understand how our current circumstance is tethered to the trauma of the past. Through her visual, sonic, and movement investigations across time and technology she disrupts and asserts ideas of history, body, liberation, and otherness. Above all she is interested in redistributing the privileges that allow her to maintain her creative and scholarly practice. Continue Reading...

7472_PH_LAB_2022_Traci_and_Bridget_1_0_0.jpgPublic Humanities Lab / Memoria: Care Work and Memory in the Free Burial Ground (March 11 - April 29, 2022)

Providence’s North Burial Ground holds so much history: we can walk through the neatly winding pathways, reading the headstones and remembering those gone before. But waaaayyy in the back lies another section, a place where many more lie buried without a name. This project seeks to honor the residents of Potter’s Field and Free Ground through art, research and collective action. Curators: Traci Picard and Bridget Hall.



7469_PH_LAB_2022_Coffee_exhibition_image_5_0.jpgPublic Humanities Lab / Coffee: A Journey Through the Senses (March 10 - April 11, 2022)

Coffee isn’t just a warm drink. It’s heritage, culture, and a living tradition you hold in your hands. Join us for an exhibit on coffee’s journey from bean to cup and a demonstration of its preparation. Curators: Hilary Bergen and Susana Turbay Botero.

7465_PH_LAB_2022_Erotic_Vision_image_8_0.jpgPublic Humanities Lab / Erotic Vision: Poetics of Body and Image (February 23 - March 9, 2022)

This exhibition explores Audre Lorde’s Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power in an intimate poetry and photography workshop where our collective creations will become the exhibition. Curators: Larissa Nez, Kate Hao, Rai Terry, and Sophia Ellis.



7466_PH_LAB_2022_Andy_5_0.jpgPublic Humanities Lab / Making a Village (February 23 - March 9, 2022)

An art show using multi-media processes to encounter family archival gaps and memory loss created by forced exile during the Holocaust. This work encounters the complex nature of intergenerational grief of language and ancestral homeland. Curated by Andy Goodman.




Climates Inequality exhibition Slide_0.pngClimates of Inequality: Stories of Environmental Justice (November 8 - December 8, 2021)

This exhibit is located at URI Feinstein Providence Campus, 80 Washington Street, Providence, 1st and 2nd floor Lobby Gallery

The Center for Public Humanities at Brown University, the URI Providence Campus, and the Tomaquag Museum present Climates of Inequality: Stories of Environmental Justice, an International Traveling Exhibition and Story Exchange Project Exploring the History and Future of Climate and Environmental Justice.

Climates of Inequality: Stories of Environmental Justice is a participatory public memory project sponsored by the Humanities Action Lab and created by university students, educators, and community leaders in more than twenty cities across the United States and around the world.  Continue Reading...

3048_Defiant_Spirits_Fernando_Brito_67_0.jpgDefiant Spirits: Fernando Brito’s Sinaloa (October 6 - November 12, 2021)

Defiant Spirits is an exhibition of the Mexican documentary photographer Fernando Brito’s moving images of life in Sinaloa, a province that has been wrecked by the struggle between one of the most powerful drug cartels in the world and the Mexican government. The exhibition includes five photographs from Brito’s award-winning series, Tus Pasos Se Perdieron con el Paisaje/Your Steps Were Lost in the Landscape (begun in 2010), of corpses found dead in the Mexican landscape, most of them victims of the drug wars. In them, Brito juxtaposes the brutality of the bloodied, lifeless bodies with the impossible beauty of the surrounding landscape, lending these photographs the epic feel of 19th-century paintings of war. Twenty photographs in the exhibition are from Brito’s more recent series, which shows Sinaloans’ resilience in the face of this violence. These images show Sinaloans’ religious rites, festivals, and other celebrations of local history, underscoring the centrality of performance in building community.

Defiant Spirits was curated by Didier Aubert, Director of American Studies at Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris, and was shown previously at Fordham University and at Yale University in 2019. 

Map-It-Out-high-res-1-1440x960 (1)_0_0.jpgMap It Out – Providence (September 26 – November 14, 2019)

Map It Out – Providence is an exhibition of hand-drawn maps created by Providence and Rhode Island community members in collaboration with the Toronto-based artists Gwen MacGregor and Sandra Rechico. The maps reveal participants’ memories, and propose new ways of understanding the geography of our city and state. Exhibition attendees are welcome to add their own maps to the exhibition.

Map It Out has previously been exhibited in Berlin and Long Island City. Maps from these two cities as well as those created in Cardiff, Wales will be exhibited along with the maps made in Rhode Island. This project is part of an ongoing collaborative art practice that uses creative processes to challenge mapping conventions. The exhibition and all associated programs are free and open to the public. The artists will be out in the community mapping with participants at Dorcas Place International (Thursday, September 19), the Rhode Island Heritage Festival (Saturday, September 21), and Sankofa Market at Knight Memorial Library (Wednesday, September 25).

List of exhibition events is on the website here.

Poster_0.jpegSiempre Esperando: Remittances and their False Promises in El Salvador (October 4 - November 15, 2019)

Two million Salvadorans living in the U.S. send home $2.8 billion, or 16.6% of El Salvador’s GDP. This exhibit demonstrates that remittances are a crucial component of a much larger story that places El Salvador within theoretical frameworks of migration, transnationalism, and U.S. Empire. Exhibition was curated by Edwin Rodrigues, American Studies PhD and Public Humanities MA student.



4.Vitullo.Neighborhood-Newness.Women (1)_0_0.jpgThe Providence Album, Vol. 1 (May 4 - July 22, 2019)

The Providence Album, Vol 1 explores the life, look and history of Providence in the 1960s through the photography of Carmel Vitullo and Harry Callahan.

In addition to regular hours, the Gallery will be open for Gallery Night Providence on Thursday, July 18, 2019.

Bakery 1_0.jpgIn Between: Public Humans in Hong Kong (May 24-September 30, 2019)

In four parts, this exhibit showcases the creativity of the Brown students and faculty who visited Hong Kong in January 2019. These works were also shown at April’s On the Edge Arts Festival sponsored by the Cultural Management Programme of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Two sections of this exhibit focus on Lo Ting, a mythical half-fish, half-human creature, who comes from Lantau Island, a place we visited on our trip. Other students explored Hong Kong’s food scene and present photographs and thoughts about what we ate. Finally, Jasmine Chu’s art piece “Between Tide” explores issues of identity, memory and (un)belonging.

Student Travelers: Jasmine Chu, Yilin (Elaine) Huang, Zuohan (Bella) Jiang, Sharon Lin, Alyson Myers, Molly Paillet, Johanna Obenda, Julia Renaud, Ryan Saglio.  Faculty: Robert Lee, Susan Smulyan.

Copy of DSC00337_0.JPGWhere the Heart Is: International Southeast Asian Migration Stories (May 25 - July 31, 2019)

What is home to you? A place, a taste, a memory, a person – perhaps a dream? Can you remember the first time you left home?

This exhibition features the accounts of Southeast Asian women from a variety of backgrounds – migrant workers, students, business owners, and families. Gender shapes every stage of the migration experience from opportunities and resources to risks and vulnerabilities. Women are more mobile than ever, yet the experiences of female Southeast Asian migrants are often obscured. Our respondents vary in class experience and country of origin, but they all share in same the desire: to hold onto home. Visit https://blogs.brown.edu/wheretheheartis/ for more information.

Curated by Public Humanities MA students Ruby Thiagarajan MA’19 and Jasmine Chu MA’19 with Arthur Sun AB’18.5 (East Asian Studies).


large_unfinished business (1).pngUnfinished Business: The Long Civil Rights Movement (September 21, 2018 - February 8, 2019)

The Civil Rights Movement (The Southern Freedom Movement) was a catalyst for social change in America disrupting the legal system of Jim Crow and racial segregation. It was composed of ordinary Black women, men and children, many of whom placed their lives on the line to fight the laws of racial segregation.  In this exhibition we tell the story of the relationship  between the Black organizing tradition and the movement.  We trace the tradition from the moment of emancipation until the presidential campaigns of Jesse Jackson. It is a story not often told, yet it is a necessary one for our times.

This exhibition is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice.


medium_Invitation_Front_Nuestros Origenes Devotos.pngNuestros Orígenes Devotos/Our Devoted Origins (May 18 - June 1, 2018)

Nuestros Orígenes Devotos/Our Devoted Origins. Manuel Mosquera Garcés: between religion, language and blood, a curatorial experiment that questions the memories (myths) created around absent figures in our families. This exhibition is centered on the case of Manuel Mosquera Garcés (1907-1972), Afro-Colombian politician and journalist, and the resonances his figure still has in the Mosquera family.

Bryn and Aly no text.jpgPublic Humanities Gallery Lab (February 20 - March 20, 2018)

During the month of February 20 thru March 20, the Nightingale-Brown House's Carriage House Gallery will transform into a Public Humanities LAB. During this time, Public Humanities graduate students will mount exhibitions, pop-up experiences, prototyping projects, performances, workshops and gatherings that probe questions about art, memory, storytelling, history, culture and identity. All programs are free and open to the public. 

Alumni reunion_Crossing Borders-6681_0.jpgCrossing Borders (October 27, 2017 - January 25, 2018)

Migration; incarceration; income inequality; environmental degradation and extinction: these are some of the most pressing problems of the 21st century. There are volumes of data that reveal the extent of the impact these events are having on human lives; increasingly, they are the focus of some of the most affecting contemporary art as well.


17058-1_JNBC_Guantanamo_web-banner_exhibition (2).pngWelcome to Camp America: Beyond Gitmo (September 14 - October 17, 2017)

This exhibition of photographs by Debi Cornwall includes environmental portraits of 14 former Guantánamo captives now living in 9 countries, from Albania to Qatar. Each image replicates, in the free world, the military’s “no faces” rule, commenting on alienation of indefinite detention and how these men will remain forever marked by Guantánamo.  

Paulsen image (1)_0.jpgPlaying Innocent: A Solo Exhibition by Sarah Paulsen (February 27 - March 16, 2017)

Sarah Paulsen is a visual artist and filmmaker based in St. Louis, MO. Playing Innocent, a solo exhibition of Paulsen's work, features a mix of paintings, collage, textile works, and animated film that examine the social construction of whiteness as a racial formation in American society, and its intersection with other social identities, such as gender, class, and citizenship.


Corcoran-SHU-cell-by-Billy-Sell-Courtesy-Prisoner-Express-www.prisonerexpress.org-Gary-Fine-assistant-director-Durland-Alternatives-_0_0.jpgSolitary Confinement: Inhumanity in Rhode Island (January 30 - March 10, 2017)

Solitary Confinement: Inhumanity in Rhode Island seeks to educate the public about the abuses of solitary confinement in Rhode Island and throughout the country in order to create political pressure to reduce the prevalence of this violent practice.


incarceration_0.jpgStates of Incarceration (August 29 - September 24, 2016)

States of Incarceration is the first national traveling multi-media exhibition on the history and future of mass incarceration in the United States. It was developed by faculty and students at twenty different universities across the country, including Brown, working together through a national program called the Humanities Action Lab with funding from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the Institute for Museum and Library Sciences.

UMBRELLA POSTER FINAL PRINT_Page_1 (original)_0.jpgUmbrella Movement: Youth & Activism (September 22, 2016)

From New York to Cairo, from Taiwan to Baltimore, political protest movements reveal the complicated and emotional relationships between citizens and their government.  Opening at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities gallery space on May 4, 2016, Umbrella Movement: Youth & Activism  is one of a series of interconnected exhibits throughout Providence, and brings together photography and mixed media to highlight the commonalities of social justice movements across generations and around the globe.

stamp-exhibit-landscape-web_0_0.jpgThousands of Little Colored Windows: Brown University’s Stamp Collections (February 10 - April 15, 2016)

Thousands of Little Colored Windows: Brown University’s Stamp Collections opens this week at the John Hay Library with a partner exhibition in the Public Humanities Gallery at the John Nicholas Brown Center. These exhibitions are curated by students in Professor Steven Lubar’s Museum Collecting and Collections class (Fall 2015). Over the course of the semester, the students delved into Brown University Library’s extensive stamp collections to uncover the numerous ways in which postage stamps, postal history, and the history of this hobby hold relevance to social history, political, and cultural studies. Through enlarged reproductions of stamps from the Library’s collections, the exhibition in the Public Humanities Gallery takes a close look at common themes found in stamp designs across the globe and presents a thematic selection stamps that the students researched.

BitterSweet (9)_1_0.jpgAn Old Tree Becomes a Sculpture: BitterSweet (May 22 - October 2, 2015)

Sculptor Gail Whitsitt-Lynch has created "BitterSweet" from the wood of a stately elm that stood in the garden at the Nightingale-Brown house from 1920 to 2014. Although the tree is gone, its life continues in this dynamic carving. The exhibit explores the evolution of material through the artist's process to the finished sculpture, BitterSweet, and includes a graphic history of the life cycle of this singular tree.