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Lecture on Representational Practices of Animals in Museums, Zoos and Natural History

August 14, 2014 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm


The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft Hosts Lecture on Representational Practices of Animals in Museums, Zoos and Natural History

The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft (KMAC) hosts Dr. Karen A. Rader, Associate Professor of History at Virginia Commonwealth University for an evening lecture entitled “Animals on Display: Reflections on the Creaturely in Museums, Zoos, and Natural History”on Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 6:30pm. A pre-lecture reception with wine and light bites will be held from 6 to 6:30pm. The lecture is included with regular museum admission, KMAC members are free. This special event is in conjunction with KMAC’s current exhibition Second Life on view throughAugust 31, 2014.
Human estrangement from animals is a cultural phenomenon with a strange and contested history. John Berger, critic and writer, famously said that “in the last two centuries, animals have gradually disappeared.” Those who share his view contend that animals have been removed from our daily lives and that we have been removed from the daily lives of animals. Yet this development has also been the impetus for a plethora of representational practices that, broadly conceived, work to fill in the gap between humans and animals. Ironically, these practices may ultimately intensify the very nostalgia, distance, and ignorance they were devised to remedy.
The lecture will present and reflect on a wide range of examples of these new representational practices, situated in various historical and sociocultural contexts, in order to speak to the ongoing importance of making animals visible for the arrangement and sustenance of human-animal relations.


Dr. Karen A. Rader is the Director of the Science, Technology, and Society Program and Associate Professor of History at Virginia Commonwealth University. She holds degrees in Biology (B.S.) from Loyola College (now Loyola University) in Maryland, and History and Philosophy of Science (M.A. and Ph.D.) from Indiana University. She was awarded a Mellon Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the History and Social Study of 20th Century Life Sciences at MIT (1994-1995) and was a Research Fellow at the Davis Center for Historical Studies (“Animals and Society”) at Princeton (1996-1997). She has held visiting professorships at the University of Olso and the Institute for Advanced Study, Lancaster University, UK. She was awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER Grant for “Biology on Display: Museums and the New Life Sciences in America (2004-2010).” Her first book, Making Mice: Standardizing Animals for American Biomedical Research, 1900-1955 (Princeton UP, 2004) won a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book award.  In 2013 she was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Section L (History and Philosophy of Science), cited for “for distinguished contributions to the history of the modern life sciences and for exceptional service to the discipline of the history of science.”
More recently, she has co-edited an anthology (with Adam Dodd and Liv Emma Thorsen) entitled Animals on Display: The Creaturely in Museums, Zoos, and Natural History, in Penn State University Press’ ‘Animalibus’ series, September 2013). Animals on Display presents nine essays from a range of disciplinary perspectives — museum studies, folklore, history of science, cultural studies, and celebrity studies – which were initially brought into conversation through annual workshops funded by the Norwegian Research Council at the University of Oslo.  Collectively, the anthology surveys the historical representation and display of nonhuman animals from the eighteenth century through to the present day.


The Second Life exhibition at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft is on view through August 31, 2014.


August 14, 2014
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
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KMAC Museum
715 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
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