A Case for Curiosity: Old Objects, New Contexts, Unexpected Stories (2015-2016)

Presentation Date: 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, gallery in the History of Science Department, Harvard University
  • The microscope of a literary legend.
  • An illustration of a cannibalistic fish in the middle of his supper.
  • And the nose cone of a missile given as a Valentine's Day gift. 

On display, these objects and many more curiosities seem completely disparate, but their stories come together to illustrate the interwoven and multidimensional nature of history.  Although they are part of Harvard's Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, their foremost scientific functions only begin to define the narratives brought to the foreground in this exhibition. The objects are assembled in order to show how they connect broadly to major historical movements in the United states and cultural issues such as race, gender, politics, health, communication, memory and art.

This exhibition was curated by nine students working with Sara Schechner.  It was their final project in a large undergraduate course at Harvard, USW30: Tangible Things: Harvard Collections in World History, taught in 2015 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Sara Schechner.

Case for Curiosity exhibition banner

See also: 2010s