The inaugural exhibition of the MSU Broad Art Lab, Mining the Collection, presents works selected by eleven MSU students from the MSU Broad’s collection of nearly eight thousand objects. The show takes its title from Fred Wilson’s groundbreaking 1992 exhibition Mining the Museum, in which Wilson highlighted and recontextualized artworks and artifacts from the Maryland Historical Society’s collection to offer an underrepresented African American history, and to critique the ways in which museums and curators assign artistic value, interpret histories, and shape cultural understanding.
Mining the Collection features more than thirty significant artworks acquired over a period of seventy-three years, spanning cultures and continents, from antiquities to objects from the modern and contemporary eras. Short texts composed by the student curators accompany each work and highlight what makes it notable in their eyes. The texts are the culmination of thorough research, thoughtful analysis, and a collaborative editing process that involved MSU Broad curators, educators, and registrars.
Some students focus on the cultural, political, and social contexts of their selected objects, inspired by Wilson’s example. Others center on close visual analysis, art historical readings, or subjective interpretation. The exhibition, which features many seminal works, including Fred Wilson’s Untitled (Chariot Race) (1992), offers eleven unique perspectives on a cherished museum collection.
Special thanks to student curators Jaylynn Buckley, Haley Clayton, Shayla Croteau, John Dinges, Mia Elzy, Aria G. Frawley, Madison Kautman, Brittany Leatherman, Azya Moore, Jake Roberts, Stephanie Vettese, and MSU Department of Art, Art History, and Design faculty advisors Susan Bandes and Jon Frey.
Mining the Collection is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by the MSU Art History Association and students with an interest in museum studies, with curatorial oversight by Carla Acevedo-Yates, Associate Curator, and Georgia Erger, Curatorial Assistant, and interpretive oversight by Michelle Word, Director of Education. Support for this exhibition is provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs Minigrant Program, administered by the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, and the Elizabeth Halsted and the Alan and Rebecca Ross endowed exhibitions funds.