West of downtown St. Louis sits an 1851 townhouse that bears no obvious relationship to the monumental architecture, trendy condominiums, and sports stadiums of its surroundings. Originally the residence of a fur-trade tycoon and now the Campbell House Museum, the house has been subject to energetic preservation and heritage work for some 130 years.
In Taking Possession: The Politics of Memory in a St. Louis Town House, Heidi Aronson Kolk, assistant professor in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, explores the complex and sometimes contradictory motivations for safeguarding the house as a site of public memory. Crafting narratives about the past that comforted business elites and white middle-class patrons, museum promoters assuaged concerns about the city’s most pressing problems, including racial and economic inequality, segregation and privatization, and the legacies of violence for which St. Louis has been known since Ferguson.
The talk will take place in John M. Olin Library, Rm. 142, and will be followed by a special reception.