Hi-Noon Museum Lecture – December 19, 2019

Museums – once focused on collections management and the dissemination of academic knowledge to the public — are increasingly embracing an additional role of promoting dialogue and diversity. This is evident in practices such as unseating academic expertise in favor of elevating hidden narratives, eschewing artifacts in favor of emotive objects, and exhibitions that broadly address difficult subjects and expose uncomfortable truths. Through this work, museums are doing something new – instead of demonstrating our shared humanity pedagogically, they are invoking and enabling it. In this presentation we will explore and experience how intimate encounters with first-hand accounts can promote empathy and new ways of relating to the world through “radical listening.” This presentation draws particularly from the speaker’s co-curating and managing of “In|Dignity” — an exhibition featuring documentary photography and first-person accounts from 43 Inland Empire community members. Participants represented marginalized demographics and intersectional identities, and their stories provide an intimate look into daily affronts to self-worth and community belonging, and at the same time hope and dignity in difference. The original exhibition (open in 2018) inspired a theatrical performance, and now a mobile show and curriculum sponsored by the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools (visit http://indignityexhibit.weebly.com).


Presenter Bio: Arianna Huhn is the Director of the Anthropology Museum at California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB), where she has curated a series of exhibitions centered on narratives, rather than objects. The largest of these installations was In|Dignity (2018), which received funding from California Humanities, a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Mervyn M. Dymally African American Political & Economic Institute. Arianna holds an MA in Museum Studies from George Washington University, and a PhD in Anthropology from Boston University. She has taught courses in Anthropology, Museum Studies, and African Studies at Whittier College, San Diego State, and currently at CSUSB, where she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology. Arianna is originally from San Diego, and currently lives in Yucaipa with her partner and two children.