The Social Museum Collection

Exhibition and Symposium

“Classified Documents,” installation view

“Classified Documents,” installation view

“Classified Documents,” installation view

“Classified Documents,” installation view

“Classified Documents,” installation view

“Classified Documents,” installation view

“Classified Documents,” installation view

Exhibition


The Harvard Art Museums’s 2007 exhibition Classified Documents: The Social Museum of Harvard University, 1903–1931 was the first significant public presentation of works from this collection in more than thirty years. In addition to the richness of the material as individual objects, the display boards and their groupings provide a time capsule that illustrates social reform pedagogy during its early stages. Indeed, it is the confluence of these kinds of graphic materials, their method of display, and the context they create that makes the Social Museum collection unique.

Symposium


In the spring of 2007 the Harvard Art Museums hosted the M. Victor Leventritt symposium “A New Social Order.” Presented in conjunction with Classified Documents, the symposium placed the imagery, ideology, and use of the Social Museum into critical context and used it as a case study in the early institutional applications of photography as a social document.

Participating speakers included:

Elspeth H. Brown, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Centre for the Study of the United States and the American Studies Program, University of Toronto

Julie K. Brown, independent scholar and Research Associate, National Museum of American History

Marta Gutman, Associate Professor, Spitzer School of Architecture, City College of New York

Deborah Martin Kao, Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography, Acting Head of the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Chief Curator, Harvard Art Museums

Michelle Lamunière, John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Assistant Curator of Photography, Harvard Art Museums

Barbara Levy Simon, Associate Professor of Social Work, Columbia University School of Social Work

Abigail A. Van Slyck, Dayton Professor of Art History, Department of Art History and Architectural Studies Program, Connecticut College