Horses in Agriculture: New Online Exhibit

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 11.56.11 AMThis exhibit is being developed for the International Museum of the Horse by Purdue University doctoral candidate Elise Lofgren and Dr. Colleen Brady. The exhibit is far ranging, covering pre-domestication horse-human interactions through 21st century agritourism. Despite the ambitious scope, appropriate to the Museum of the Horse, it is already a very inclusive exhibit.

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Elise Lofgren seeks to bridge disciplinary divides among both riders and researchers, as well as integrating technology into agricultural outreach and education. Her research in informed by her riding experience, while her interest in instructional design and active research allows her to address the gaps in traditional equestrian education. In addition to the museum exhibit, she and Dr. Brady are designing a much needed online course on “Horses in Human History and Culture,” which will be available through Purdue. A survey course of this nature will be invaluable to social science and animal science students alike.

Two things set the “Horses in Agriculture” online exhibit apart from similar projects that have come and gone from the web over the years. The first is the level of interactivity, reflective of Lofgren’s background in educational technology. While the exhibit is still in beta (and seeking your feedback!), there is already a variety of media. Along with textual introductions to each subject, there are photos, infographics, navigable maps, video, and audio. Despite the high media content, it loads quickly and allows visitors the choice of where to go next via a navigational sidebar. The exhibit also “remembers” where you were when you last visited, and gives the option of returning to that section. The second thing that sets this exhibit apart is that it makes use of the most recent research in a variety of fields, and avoids perpetuating common myths.

You can visit the exhibit here, and after taking a look around take their exit survey (regardless of your prior experience with horses or horse history) to suggest what features or information you might like to see in the final exhibit.

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Early Modern Collections In Use

This past weekend the Huntington hosted the Early Modern Collections in Use conference. The Huntington conferences are always delightful and productive and this was no exception. First, I suggest checking out the Huntington blog and the hashtag.Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 5.27.34 PM

Most of the papers, unsurprisingly but still wonderfully, made explicit reference to items housed at the Huntington. Given the subject, non-textual sources were well represented. And, as often happens with these narrower well curated topics, each speaker was able to draw comparisons and connections with prior papers. So, not only was there an assortment of great papers, but throughout the two days there was active discussion. In effect, this became about the production of knowledge– much as many presenters mentioned as a goal of early modern visits to collections.

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I was, of course, particularly interested in Dániel Margócsy’s “Stables as Collections for Breeding: The Production of Knowledge and the Reproduction of Horses.” My primary research topic currently is on understanding of inheritance in horses and livestock in the 18th and early 19th centuries, so this was a can’t miss. I was not the only equine historian in attendance– something that is becoming delightfully less uncommon– and even had a chance to compare research notes and chat about the state of our field with Kathryn Renton over coffee. As Mary Terrall mentioned after, horse history papersScreen Shot 2017-09-17 at 6.05.29 PM are still rare enough that we come from miles around at the hint of one. Margócsy also mentioned the strange omission of horses from current research.

Margócsy’s presentation focused in particular on the relationship between collections of art and collections of horses, which often occupied the same space. He also suggests that the “ephemerality” of horses changed the ways in with they were viewed and used as collections. Because horses were collected as living, rather than preserved, specimens, preservation needs were met though breeding and through art. I look forward to reading more of his work on the subject.

And, worth mentioning, the top tweet of the conference was these good dogs:

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