What is a label?
Labels define a person, place, or thing, providing explanation and clarity. But labels may also confine our understanding of the world. Museums are filled with labels that typically offer a single lens through which to understand what you are seeing and experiencing.
Can a common museum label—so often the omniscient voice that provides factual evidence that identifies artifacts and objects in a museum's collection—sensually engage us, inspire revolution and reform, or provide pleasure and comfort?
Can a museum label be a poem, an essay, or piece of music?
The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum asks these questions in its new series of Alternative Labels that presents diverse voices and encourages visitors to view history from a fresh perspective.
THE ALTERNARIVE LABELS
Terri Kapsalis partnered with pharmacists and forensic experts at UIC to test the pills in Jane Addams’ Travel Medicine Kit. The label, an essay in book form, pairs observations about this scientific investigation with a meditation on rest and restlessness, antagonism and peace, domesticity and social justice, and medicine and poison.
2 WAYS TO EXPERIENCE THE LABEL:
1. See the artifact. Read the label.
Terri Kapsalis' label has found its home in Miss Addams’ bedroom exhibition,
open during regular museum hours.
We've got the whole thing right here online!
For our first alternative label, we invited Luis Rodriguez, one of the country's leading Chicano writers, to compose a poem. A Hunger Song in the Shadows is inspired by several artifacts in the Museum’s collection.
View the poem in the Maps and Papers Exhibition on the second floor of the museum.