History is Now at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology

Lucille DiNaro – Business Manager

If you’ve ever visited a museum and felt the vexation of a detached observer, Brown University’s Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology (HMA) is determined to change your museum experience. Established in 1956, this interactive teaching museum offers the stark reminder that as long as humans walk the Earth, history is very much alive—and making a difference is not far out of your reach.

The HMA stylistically sets itself apart from traditional archaeological museums, favoring an interactive multimedia experience over replicated display boxes filled with ancient cultural artifacts. Current exhibitions include “Drone Warriors: The Art of Surveillance and Resistance at Standing Rock,” and “Sacred is Sacred: The Art of Protecting Bears Ears,” both of which speak to the continuing efforts of indigenous peoples in the battle to protect America’s natural and cultural landscape.

Tori Duhaime, Photos courtesy of Hannah Astillero

The exhibits describe the rise to conflict between oil opportunists and both the Water Protectors of North Dakota and the indigenous peoples in Bear’s Ears Utah, illustrating through carefully curated art, the great lengths to which Americans will go to demand what is rightfully theirs. Museum visitors are able to follow a comprehensive timeline of both political and cultural events and are prompted to think critically and respond to serious questions regarding identity and culture.

Museum visitor Hannah Astillero marks a place on this Earth worth saving.

The Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology can be found on the first floor of Manning Hall at 21 Prospect Street in Providence, located on the Brown University Main Green. The museum is free and open to the public Tuesday through Sunday, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.