The Robert Sainsbury Library has a changing selection of objects from the Sainsbury Research Unit Teaching Collection and the Sainsbury Centre Handling Collection exhibited in its display cabinet.
The first exhibition arose from the annual Robert Sainsbury Library bursary where each year the selected MA student has the opportunity to carry out library and archive related projects including accessing the teaching and handling collections. As part of her bursary, MA student Rachael Minott was asked to select and display some objects from the collections, and she took the opportunity to collaborate with other students on the MA in the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas in curating a themed exhibition. The project was so well received that each year now the MA students curate a new display as part of the core course, supported by SRU faculty and Library staff. For details of exhibited objects and the students involved, see under each exhibition listed below.
The process is informed by many of the museological debates students have engaged in during the course of the year. The practical and conceptual challenges of curating a display are introduced - how to use the visual and spatial arrangement of objects to express and communicate meaning .
The current display is titled 'Womanhood - adorning the body'. This exhibition explores the customs of adorning the female body in various regions around the world. Using objects from the SCVA and the Sainsbury Centre Teaching Collection, originating from Africa, Oceania, and Latin America, the display examines the diverse role women play in a number of different societies. It can be viewed during normal library opening hours. See the accompanying object labels for details of the objects on show.
'Tourist Treasures' was on display from May 2018-May 2019. It was an exploration of 'Tourist' art objects both in the collection and owned by SRU Faculty. Tourist art generally refers to objects that have been inspired by a culture’s traditional style, but made especially for tourists and their tastes. This display aimed to complicate this definition by including gifts and objects bought and used by locals. The accompanying object labels and curation acknowledgements can be found here.
The first exhibition from May 2017-May 2018 was 'Daughters of the Islands' which displayed selected objects from the Marjorie King collection. It focussed on a donation of objects in 2004 from Mrs King, who was Headmistress of Papauta girls school in Samoa during the mid 20th century, where girls learned traditional Samoan crafts. An accompanying booklet was produced for the display using archive photographs and other contextual material. The text of the booklet including curation acknowledgements is available here.