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The Object, the Objective: Reconsidering the Role of Collections at the Chicago History Museum

Necessary or Accessory? Perspectives on the Object in Today's Museums

The Object, the Objective: Reconsidering the Role of Collections at the Chicago History Museum

John Russick, Director of Curatorial Affairs, Chicago History Museum

With a collection of millions of objects, images, and documents, the Chicago History Museum is in the midst of a multi-part effort to reinvest in the Museum's collection. This new focus is taking shape in three primary forms - a commitment to address significant backlog collections; the development of a new institutional plan to guide future collecting; and, an unprecedented multi-phase research project to discover the potential values of objects for visitors. This presentation will explore how these three projects have forced the Museum to reconsider some old assumptions about the power of objects, the role of material culture in attracting and holding the attention of visitors, the nature of collecting in future decades, and the very future of history exhibitions.

John Russick directs all curatorial initiatives for the Chicago History Museum. He has twenty-four years of museum experience including positions at Chicago's Field Museum and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Northern Illinois University (1987) and a Master of Science in Architectural Studies and Historic Preservation from the University of Texas at Austin (1996). Over the past 15 years, Russick has led the development of a dozen exhibitions at CHM, including the family exhibition, Magic (2012), the children's exhibition, Sensing Chicago (2006); and the costume exhibition, Fashion, Flappers 'n All That Jazz (2001). His most recent publication, Connecting Kids to History with Museum Exhibitions (Left Coast Press, 2010) was co-edited with D. Lynn McRainey. Russick served as a consultant on the 2011 Florentine Films documentary, Prohibition, directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Since 2009 he has organized the American Association of Museum's annual Excellence in Exhibition Label Writing Competition. He served as Vice Chair of the Chicago History Museum‘s Visioning Committee, an initiative that culminated with the publication of Claiming Chicago: Shaping Our Future (2007). He has won awards for both his preservation work and his exhibition label writing.
Thursday, 06 December, 2012
78:45 p.m.



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University of Michigan
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