CFP : SECAC Panel 2021: Beloved Objects, Difficult Histories

SECAC 2021 in Lexington, KY – November 10-13

Abstracts due May 4. 2021

Once reproduced in souvenirs as diverse as coffee table books and snow globes, Carnegie Museum of Natural History is now reckoning with the problematic, racist, settler colonial, and potentially violent history of the notorious diorama, “Lion Attacking a Dromedary,” a scene of Barbary lions attacking a caricatured North African figure astride a camel. Not only is the diorama an inaccurate depiction of an othered culture, the figure’s head contains human remains of unknown, likely unethical, origin. One of the biggest challenges is communicating these difficult histories to a public that has traditionally embraced the diorama, adopting it as an unofficial mascot of the museum and symbol of Pittsburgh itself. 

This panel brings together stories of similar objects, artworks, or museum displays that represent violent pasts, contentious histories, and unpleasant facts – yet still retain support from a public that seems to have separated the object, artwork, or display from its difficult past and instead, are blinded by their personal connections. We are seeking papers from artists, art historians, and museum professionals that provide creative solutions, innovative exhibitions, or artistic responses to other individual objects or displays whose committed supporters may be reluctant to engage with these difficult histories.

Conference and submission details can be found by following this link:

Contact Info: 

Jessica Landau

Lecturer, History of Art & Architecture, University of Pittsburgh

Assistant Curator, Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Contact Email:

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