1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

A Social History of Natural History: Structural Tensions in the Lewis Brooks Museum at the University of Virginia

The Brooks Museum of Natural History was among the most impressive museums in the nation when it opened in 1878.  In this paper I examine one compelling aspect of the building that remains curious today: the enshrinement of the names of 18 natural historians on the walls of the building when almost half were still alive and engaged in contentious social debates. I hope to show how the choice of certain names on the walls, the conspicuous absence of others, and their structured arrangement, reveal tensions rooted in American nationalism, regionalism, and racism expressed in the language of natural science. 

Event Date: 
Friday, 27 January 2017 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Speaker: 
Jeffrey Hantman
Speaker Title: 
Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia