Instituting Reform

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The Social Museum of Harvard University, 1903-1931

Edited by Deborah Martin Kao and Michelle Lamunière; With contributions by Elspeth H. Brown, Julie K. Brown, Deborah Martin Kao, Michelle Lamunière, and Anthony W. Lee

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Out of Print

Visit Harvard Art Museums' Social Museum Collection online

Harvard University's distinctive Social Museum was established in 1903 by Francis Greenwood Peabody (1847–1936) to "collect the social experience of the world as material for university teaching." The more than 5,000 photographs and graphic illustrations that survive, including works by Lewis Hine and Frances Benjamin Johnston, are now held by the Harvard Art Museums.

Instituting Reform focuses an exacting lens on the Social Museum's history, motive, and meaning. Punctuated by generous portfolio sections, the book's five essays probe the museum's collection, using it as a case study to explore the early institutional uses of photographs as social documents, the systematization of exhibition display by reform organizations, and the role such institutions played in the formation of the modern research university. The museum promoted the study of philanthropic, social, and industrial progress through the inductive method of observation common in the sciences. As the authors demonstrate, however, the social "truths" made evident were strongly influenced by prevailing values and tensions of the Progressive Era.

Deborah Martin Kao is Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography, Acting Division Head of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Chief Curator, Harvard Art Museums. Michelle Lamunière is John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Assistant Curator of Photography, Harvard Art Museums.
ISBN: 9780300171068
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Publishing Partner: Published by Harvard Art Museums/Distributed by Yale University Press
288 pages, 9 1/2 x 12
211 color illus.
Gary Schneider

Portraits

Deborah Martin Kao

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You Look Beautiful Like That

The Portrait Photographs of Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé

Michelle Lamunière

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