Student Curators Offer Virtual Exhibits Featuring Political Memorabilia

January 19, 2021

By Brayden Rollins ‘21

As part of a growing effort by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP) to provide rich and innovative opportunities despite community restrictions, a group of students has formed a curatorial team devoted to public history and communicating that history to the larger community through online exhibits and showcases.

The curatorial team consists of a group of student curators that work together to create exhibits featuring the political memorabilia of the NHIOP. The students work closely with the archival collection on campus and conduct their own research to better understand the memorabilia or political significance of the exhibits they are curating. Since this past semester on campus had a strong emphasis on virtual programming, the student curators translated the abundant NHIOP archive into multiple blog and Instagram posts that acted as its own online exhibit.

“The curatorial team is an impactful opportunity for students to consider as it gives them hands on experience looking at pieces of political history as well as researching and summarizing what they find into easy to access blog posts,” explains Bryan Lavoie ’22, an American Studies major and member of the NHIOP curatorial team. “I have learned a great deal about how to take physical artifacts and incorporate them into researching important topics in U.S. History.”

This past semester the student curators worked on an online exhibit entitled “Booths, Ballots, and Elections! Oh my!” in which each team member researched and utilized memorabilia to draw connections between unusual elections from the past and present, such as the pandemics of 1918 and 2020. Most recently, the curatorial team completed a similar Instagram and blog exhibit that focused on the history of presidential inaugurations and how that history affects the upcoming presidential inauguration. Many of the curators utilize these exhibits as experience for future endeavors or career opportunities.

“My opportunity to work on the curatorial team at NHIOP continues to allow me to gain indispensable experience in public history and archival work in preparation for a future career in the museum field,” says Emma Bickford ’22, a History and Marketing double major and member of the NHIOP curatorial team. “I plan on attending graduate school for Museum Studies, so having the opportunity to work with a team and the incredible wealth of knowledge available through the political memorabilia at the institute has given me a chance to gain skills in archival work and other fields.”

Looking towards this next Spring semester, the student curatorial team is currently in the process of planning their next exhibit concerning the first 100 days of office for different presidents as the country looks towards President-Elect Joe Biden’s first months in office. With a successful virtual semester in the Fall, the NHIOP curatorial team is anxiously awaiting to begin curating exhibits in the future.

“NHIOP is truly a unique experience,” explains Bickford. “The NHIOP provides opportunities and experiences for students at Saint Anselm that sets it apart from other undergraduate programs.”

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