Object Lessons and the Formation of Knowledge explores the museums, libraries, and special collections of the University of Michigan on its bicentennial. Since its inception, U-M has collected and preserved objects: biological and geological specimens; ethnographic and archaeological artifacts; photographs and artistic works; encyclopedia, textbooks, rare books, and documents; and many other items. These vast collections and libraries testify to an ambitious vision of the research university as a place where knowledge is accumulated, shared, and disseminated through teaching, exhibition, and publication. Today, two hundred years after the university’s founding, museums, libraries, and archives continue to be an important part of U-M, which maintains more than twenty distinct museums, libraries, and collections. Viewed from a historic perspective, they provide a window through which we can explore the transformation of the academy, its public role, and the development of scholarly disciplines over the last two centuries. Even as they speak to important facets of Michigan’s history, many of these collections also remain essential to academic research, knowledge production, and object-based pedagogy. Moreover, the university’s exhibitions and displays attract hundreds of thousands of visitors per year from the campus, regional, and global communities. Beautifully illustrated with color photographs of these world-renowned collections, this book will appeal to readers interested in the history of museums and collections, the formation of academic disciplines, and of course the University of Michigan.
“The University of Michigan’s collections give life to the remarkable history of our world, and provide incredible opportunities for the scholars who will create the exciting new knowledge of tomorrow.”
—Mark S. Schlissel, University of Michigan
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