Questioning Things: A Quarter Century of Material Culture Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison

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Ruth Davis Design Gallery
@ 10:00 am - @ 4:00 pm

Ruth Davis Design Gallery : August 24 – November 20, 2022

Questioning Things invites visitors to look closely, to sit down, to compare, to connect, and to interrogate the common and wondrous objects that have animated the work of scholars and students across our campus.  It shares things that make us curious, things we might covet, and things that open new worlds of intellectual possibility. For the past 25 years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been a national leader in the study of Material Culture, the interdisciplinary study of the material traces of the past.  In partnership with the Chipstone Foundation this exhibition celebrates the contributions and retirement of Stanley and Polly Stone (Chipstone) Professor Emerita of American Decorative Arts and Material Culture, Ann Smart Martin, and looks ahead to the future of Material Culture on campus now rooted in and reaching out from the School of Human Ecology.  With work ranging from Elizabethan chairs to stylish pumps adorned with rosemaling, from impossible books to fossil pots, Questioning Things reunites a quarter century of UW scholars and alumni to reflect on the many questions objects may inspire. Through conversational labels highlighting diverse objects from eight Wisconsin collections, visitors will learn the kinds of questions material culture approaches help answer.

Exhibition Gallery Guide:
Handbook for Questioning Things

Related Events:
Opening Reception, September 15, 2022
Material Culture Symposium, September 24, 2022
University Collections Panel, October 21, 2022

Badger Talk Live with Co-Curator Sarah Anne Carter, PhD

Ruth Davis Design Gallery Hours:
Monday-Tuesday: closed
Wednesday: 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday: 12–4 p.m.
By Appointment:

graphic with a light grey floral pattern in the background and the words "questioning things" across the middle and a blue chair tangled in the text.