This Spring, students, faculty, and staff from the NYU SPS Division of Applied Undergraduate Studies (DAUS) had the privilege to attend a docent-led tour of the New York Historical Society's exhibition, Black Dolls, which runs from February 25-June 5, 2022. This remarkable collection showcases unique craftsmanship and creativity, bringing individual experiences to life. It also contextualizes the struggle and resiliency of enslaved people and describes the lived experiences of Black people in the postbellum era.
Professor Clif Hubby, who is the faculty coordinator for the History and Art History programs at DAUS, has taken classes on museum visits in years past. He believes that by taking advantage of the unique and world-class museums New York City offers, these tours “help transform the city itself into a kind of classroom, while enabling faculty and students to interact in a less formal setting.”
Moreover, Professor Hubby explains, “Exploring material culture can give voice to historically marginalized groups who otherwise hardly appear in the written record. The Black Dolls exhibit in particular highlights how creativity formed a part of daily life among African Americans in the time of slavery, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow. The dolls themselves are wonderfully expressive, some very sad, and some quite humorous. Notably most of the dolls were made by women, and this helps us envision some of the ways women were actively engaged in supporting and raising their families.”