The Bone Rooms, From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums: An Illustrated Lecture with Samuel J. Redman
Date: Thursday, June 30th
Location: Morbid Anatomy Museum, 424 Third Avenue, 11215 Brooklyn NY
Today, unbeknownst to the typical visitor, the Smithsonian Institution holds more than 30,000 individual sets of human remains collections. Add to this the 18,000 or more skeletons housed at the campus museum at the University of California, Berkeley and the several thousand
more housed at museums in Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia - it becomes clear the Smithsonian is no fluke. During the nineteenth and twentieth century collecting human remains became a common social and cultural pursuit - with bones streaming into museums nearly every single day. A new book, Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums takes on how these collections came to be established and what curators hoped to draw from their ongoing study and display in the form of exhibitions. The book argues that scientific racism predominated the early study of remains in the United States. Over time, an emphasis on ancestry and human prehistory displaced earlier frames like racial history. This lecture will describe how and why Redman came to write Bone Rooms and explore the history of collecting and exhibiting human remains for medical museums in the United States.
Samuel J. Redman, Ph.D. is a historian specializing in cultural and intellectual history in 19th and 20th century America. His first book, Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums was published by Harvard University Press in 2016. He completed his Ph.D. in 2012 at the University of California, Berkeley where he helped lead several major oral history projects in collaboration with the National Park Service. Before graduate school, Redman worked in several museums including the Science Museum of Minnesota, Field Museum of Natural History, and Colorado History Museum.
Morbid Anatomy Museum (View)
424 A Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215