Consortium for American Material Culture

Welcome to the CAMC Wiki

Founded by the Bard Graduate Center in 2007, the Consortium for American Material Culture (CAMC) has brought together leading academics and curators from such institutions as Boston University, Brown University, Cooper-Hewitt/Parsons Program, Cooperstown Graduate Program, Harvard Art Museums, Michigan State University Museum, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, New York University, Penn State Harrisburg, Rutgers University-Camden, University of Delaware, Winterthur Museum, Hagley Museum & Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Pennsylvania, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Chipstone Foundation, and Yale University. At annual meetings each May, the group has discussed a broad range of issues in material culture studies. In 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013, and 2016, the consortium convened at the BGC, where meetings included participants from New York City museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New-York Historical Society, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of the City of New York, Museum of Arts and Design, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

In 2010, the group moved beyond its base at Bard Graduate Center to meet at the University of Delaware and the Winterthur Museum, Library, and Gardens with a larger group of participants. The theme was material culture pedagogy. In a series of roundtable discussions, participants mined common areas in their research and teaching to develop new knowledge about how we learn from objects as well as innovative strategies for interpreting and teaching about objects in secondary and higher education classrooms, museums, and other public venues.

The 2011 meeting took place at Brown University, sponsored by the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage. The focus was on teaching material culture with (and without) a university museum as well as with museum study centers, historic house museums, and period rooms. Native American collections were also highlighted. Sessions took place at the RISD Museum and Brown Center.

The 2012 meeting was hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Chipstone Foundation. Sessions took place at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Chipstone at Fox Point, the Chazen Museum of Art, and the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and the Living Environments Laboratory.

The 2013 meeting returned to the Bard Graduate Center, concentrating on three areas of interest: material culture studies curricula, student participation in exhibitions, and digital humanities. Sessions took place at the Center's Academic Programs building and Gallery, and The New-York Historical Society.

The 2014 meeting was once again hosted by the University of Delaware, this time with the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware. Discussions encompassed institutional collecting goals and practices, including digital archives, as well material culture studies curricula and student work on digital projects.

The 2015 meeting was hosted by Penn State Harrisburg. Topics of discussion ranged from the status of a material culture "canon" to participants' research projects to collecting and interpreting local and regional history over time, including cultural landscapes. Sites visits included The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Capitol, Milton Hershey School, and The Hershey Story.

The 2016 meeting took place at Bard Graduate Center, May 12-13. Topics of discussion included student exhibitions and projects, and issues of diversity in academia and cultural institutions. Participants also engaged in a hands-on object study exercise. Sessions took place at the Center's Academic Programs building and Gallery, and the M11 Gallery, New York City Department of Sanitation.

The 2017 meeting was hosted by the American and New England Studies Program at Boston University, May 15-16. Sessions at BU's College of Arts & Sciences included discussions of the pros and cons of alternate capstone projects, and current issues in material culture education. Participants also engaged in a hands-on object observation and writing exercise. Site visits included a local walking tour plus trips to the Boston Athenaeum and Harvard University's athletic collections.

The 2018 meeting was hosted by the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, May 31-June 1. The theme of this meeting was Changing National Narratives. Site visits included the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Charles Sumner School, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Smithsonian curators presented their work on and answered questions about recently installed exhibitions.

This wiki developed as an outcome of the 2010 meeting, and serves as an archive of annual meetings. We encourage you to add your materials to this site.

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