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Cravens World

Through the University’s collection, UB Anderson Gallery is dedicated to making objects and educational resources accessible to teachers, students, and visitors to encourage individual pursuit of knowledge. Cravens World is an innovative, alternative design for “open storage”—a space or room in a museum providing visible accessibility to an entire collection. Learning opportunities are limitless. Aided by diverse educational tools for engagement, audiences visually encounter more than 1,100 objects spanning 6,000 years of world arts that evoke the nuances of human expression and creativity. The Cravens collection is an innovative educational instrument for object-based teaching for a range of disciplines at the University and K-12 curriculum, as well as to the diverse interests of individual visitors to the Gallery.

The transparent “globe” structure at the center of the room provides endless opportunities to examine objects from every side and perspective. They are organized according to six cross-cultural themes to encourage visual comparisons: storage vessels, masking tradition, human figure, ritual, status and prestige, and personal adornment. Objects in wall cabinets, visibly accessible for self-guided examination, are organized by geographical location and, for conservation purposes, grouped by medium. Rather than a single curatorial voice, dominant narrative, or predetermined pathway, visitors explore exactly what interests them and are encouraged to make surprising discoveries along the way. Visitors are encouraged to chart personal explorations of the globe and wall cabinets by selecting objects of particular interest and making unique connections between them. While minimal labeling encourages looking without distraction or an authorial voice, inventory numbers on small cubes next to each object are the gateway to further information available on a touch screen or in binders with hard copies of pages from the digital database. The interactive touch screen offers visitors various technological options for individual pursuit of knowledge by hyperlinking digital renditions of the objects to maps, video interviews, and blog networks that properly contextualize the selected artifact by artist or within a given origin, function, or culture.