Past Speaker Series

Stephen Loring


March 22, 2012

Brooks Hall, UVA

“The Penguin’s Egg:  Natural History Collections and Collectors as a Means of Understanding the World and What it Means  to Be a Human Being”

“Understanding the Natural World, and Our Place In It” is the self-proclaimed vision and mission of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.  The NMNH is one of the world’s great repositories of natural and cultural heritage collections which form the intellectual bedrock of the biological, geological and anthropological sciences.  The collections –cataloged and named—shape the scientific understanding of the world.  Yet the collections are the result of human agency –the passion, curiosity and initiative of the scientist/collectors and cultural perceptions of what to collect.  This presentation explores how objects collected by  Charles Darwin,  by  19th century Smithsonian naturalists in Alaska and the Arctic, and by members of  Scott’s ill-fated Antarctica expedition, reflect as much on notions of humanity as they do on scientific discourse.

The lecture will be followed by questions and a light reception.

Stephen Loring, PhD
Museum Anthropologist/Arctic Archaeologist
Arctic Studies Center/Department of Anthropology
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution