Collections and Collecting

Bringing together curators, archivists, library professionals, and scholars representing fields across the sciences and the humanities, this working group takes an interdisciplinary approach to considering the history of collections, as well as associated debates surrounding the value and purpose of collecting. This group will grapple with the past and present role of collections, and consider questions such as the following: What kinds of objects, specimens, and artifacts are considered worth collecting and by whom? How can institutions continue to maintain and care for their collections? What kinds of information and/or data are stored within collections? How can new approaches to research, teaching, and public programs allow for objects to reach new audiences and/or provide new opportunities for reinterpretation?

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Consortium Respectful Behavior Policy

Participants at Consortium activities will treat each other with respect and consideration to create a collegial, inclusive, and professional environment that is free from any form of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

Participants will avoid any inappropriate actions or statements based on individual characteristics such as age, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, nationality, political affiliation, ability status, educational background, or any other characteristic protected by law. Disruptive or harassing behavior of any kind will not be tolerated. Harassment includes but is not limited to inappropriate or intimidating behavior and language, unwelcome jokes or comments, unwanted touching or attention, offensive images, photography without permission, and stalking.

Participants may send reports or concerns about violations of this policy to

Upcoming Meetings

There are no currently scheduled upcoming events.

Past Meetings

  • May 6, 2022

    Brooke Penaloza Patzak, FWF Schrödinger Fellow/ Visiting Scholar, University of Pennsylvania: “Geographic Provinces as a Doctrine and Framework for Scientific Collection and Display, 1860-1900"

  • April 1, 2022

    Katherine Arnold, London School of Economics: "Interpreting the Collector's Logic: The Pursuit of Desiderata in Early Nineteenth-Century Southern Africa"

  • March 4, 2022

    Andrea Marshall, Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies: "Zines as Nonbinary Objects and Questions of Privilege"

  • February 4, 2022

    Katherine McLeod, New York University: "What to do about rats in the archive," from her dissertation, "How to Display a Hoatzin: Ecology, Eugenics, and Zoology in the Early 20th Century United States"

  • December 3, 2021

    Maura C. Flannery, Professor Emerita, St. John's University, NY/Research Associate, A.C. Moore Herbarium, University of South Carolina, Columbia:  "Can Digital Collections Bridge the Gap between the Humanities and Science?"

  • November 5, 2021

    Jesse Smith, Research Curator at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, on “Instruments, Industries, and Invertebrates: Curating Water in the Public History of Science.” 
    Jesse will be giving us a brief virtual tour of the new “Downstream” exhibit at the Science History Institute and will talk through the process of its development. Then, we will turn to a broader discussion about the relationship between the history of science, public history, and museum exhibitions. Jesse has included two articles (attached) that offer some background about the collections and exhibitions at the Science History Institute.

  • October 1, 2021

    Nushelle de Silva, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: "Conditioning Art, Air, and Action: Exhibition Conservation in the Art Museum"

  • April 30, 2021

    Anisha Gupta, American Philosophical Society: "Conservation is not neutral: an anti-colonial framework for collections care"

  • March 26, 2021

    Nadine Löhr, Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities: "Collecting Arabic Scientific Manuscripts - Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos in Mashhad, Iran"

  • February 26, 2021

    Alison Laurence, Stanford University: "The Quick and the Dead at La Brea: Affective Encounters with Ice Age Los Angeles"

Group Conveners

  • reedgochberg's picture

    Reed Gochberg

    Dr. Gochberg is Assistant Director of Studies and Lecturer in History and Literature at Harvard University. She holds a PhD in English from Boston University.


  • ahlink09's picture

    Adrianna Link

    Dr. Link is Head of Scholarly Programs at the American Philosophical Society. She received her PhD in History of Science from The Johns Hopkins University.


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