View the online exhibition.

What makes an object an artifact? Why do we save some things and not others? What can we learn from the things we save? It has long been the role of curators and scholars to answer these questions. We wanted to hear from others. Fashion designers, artists, bookmakers, novelists, bicycle repair people, and many more have looked closely at artifacts in our collection and created work in their chosen discipline that helps to illuminate our artifacts.

In the spirit of Jane Addams' democratic approach, this project expands traditional ideas of expertise, bringing new knowledge and meaning to artifacts at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. We asked diverse artists and community members to comment on pieces in our collection, hoping to create new lenses for understanding historic narratives, material culture, and the role of objects in our lives.