Something borrowed…

    A small museum in University City is treating its current collections of artifacts like a lending library. People will be able to take home a Polynesian oar, a Brazilian fan, or a set of wooden African coins. All the objects were rescued from a defunct local gallery.

    A small museum in University City is treating its current collections of artifacts like a lending library. People will be able to take home a Polynesian oar, a Brazilian fan, or a set of wooden African coins. All the objects were rescued from a defunct local gallery.

    The objects from former wolds fairs had been displayed at the Commercial Museum of Philadelphia. They languished at a city storage site since that museum was torn down in 1991.

    Philadelphia’s Public Art director Margot Berg emailed local cultural organizations, asking whether they wanted to rescue any of the objects before they were trashed.

    “We didn’t know how much interest there would be,” she said. “The first day was non-stop ringing telephones, asking ‘can we go over right now?’ Absolutely flooded by the response.”

    In the end, everything found a home. But many objects had no paperwork, so there is no way of knowing where they were made, when, or by whom.

    That intrigued Aaron Levy at the Slought Foundation in University City. He wants to free up viewers’ minds by not displaying any informative captions with the mysterious artifacts.

    “Rather than calling our attention to the captions,” Levy said, “which is supposed to prevent us from thinking and be good readers, we want to have different relationship to the objects.”

    The foundation is lending objects to visitors who sign an agreement to return them after a limited time.

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