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Pop-Up Exhibit: The Hidden Life of Things

March 11, 2019

Andean and Amazonian Cultural Artifacts and the Stories They Tell

The Kohler Art Library is pleased to host a pop-up exhibit about Andean and Amazonian cultural artifacts for the month of March. This exhibit was produced by the Center for Latin American Studies at The Ohio State University and comes to us after stops at the Madison Public Library and the Spurlock Museum at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. For more details on what this pop-up exhibit entails, see below.
Please join us for an opening reception and lecture by curator Michelle Wibbelsman on Tuesday, March 12, 12:30-2:30 pm at the Kohler Art Library. In this casual reception Michelle will join us remotely to offer her thoughts on the exhibit.
The Andes and Amazonia have a long history of oral traditions. Even as native inhabitants engaged with Western writing, becoming more “lettered” since the time of contact, indigenous communities retained the art of storytelling and cultural production. Wisdom and meaning making were and continue to be passed down from one generation to the next by way of practice, experience and applied knowledge of the processes behind beautifully made things instead of conventional written texts. This exhibit presents some of the ways by which indigenous communities inscribe rich narratives of their cultural and historical experiences in tactile surfaces and performance traditions rather than on paper.

What is a “pop-up exhibit”?

The Hidden Life of Things pop-up exhibit presents a collection of Andean and Amazonian cultural artifacts featured as “texts” in their own right on 19 retractable banners and stands (33.5″ x 78.7″) that allow the exhibit to travel from institution to institution with the purpose of fostering engagement with indigenous epistemologies and raising greater awareness of Andean and Amazonian cultures. The exhibit can be set up easily in any space that accommodates the banners and stands, generating an instant, self-standing gallery that viewers can walk through. The exhibit includes interactive features, accessible through QR codes that can be read on any smart phone, which allow viewers to listen to Andean music, hear Quechua poetry and Andean myths, access resources online, and learn more about the cultural artifacts as they move through the exhibit.


This pop-up exhibit was developed, curated, and designed by Michelle Wibbelsman (faculty curator, associate professor of Latin American Indigenous Cultures, Ethnographic and Ethnomusicological Studies, Department of Spanish and Portuguese), Diego Arellano (student curator, Arts Management major), and Tan Nguyen (exhibit graphic designer, assistant director of Marketing and Communications, Center for Languages, Literatures and Cultures).

This traveling exhibit was produced by the Center for Latin American Studies at The Ohio State University in collaboration with various units on campus and funding support from a U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant and a private donation from Norman E. Whitten to The Ohio State University.