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Preserving The Bigger Story: What An Object Has To Tell


Some public art is not meant to last – it’s created for temporary enjoyment. But other art and objects are created with more longevity in mind, and are preserved so that we may enjoy them and learn from them well into the future.

Joe Kapler is the Curator of the Division of Museums and History Sites for the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison. Kapler says that collecting and preserving objects from our past is more than just accounting for the basic details. His goal as curator is to not only catalog the who, what, and where of an object, but to also to preserve its bigger story – how that object contributes to and is part of our communal history.

Gianofer Fields recently met with him to tour the Society’s storage area, and Kapler began the tour with a disclaimer: he says there are more objects that build our collective narrative that can be seen in one day.

Gianofer Fields studies material culture at UW-Madison and is the curator of "It's a Material World" - a project funded by the Chipstone Foundation, a decorative arts foundation whose mission is preserving and interpreting their collection, as well as stimulating research and education in the decorative arts.

Original air date: 06/29/13

Audrey Nowakowski hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2014.