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The Wonder Room

The Wonder Room

Forgotten objects are given new lives in The Wonder Room, an educational display that continues the Armory’s reflection on its 25th anniversary. The works seen here, gathered from all over the world, were used by Armory’s teaching artists in the organization’s earliest years.

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The human compulsion to display curious objects, collected from afar, was given a formal venue in the invention of the cabinet of curiosities during the Renaissance. Although our rational knowledge of the world and its various cultures has increased, the interest in collecting objects that mystify us and challenge our preconceived notions has never abated. Though they have been removed from their original cultural contexts, these objects, when viewed in this setting, may bring to light aspects of our own cultural identities that are otherwise overlooked.

It is not a rare occurrence for museums and cultural institutions to rediscover items of significance in their institutional storage. Objects that have lost much of their provenance periodically resurface to become sources of new scholarly inquiry. In this spirit, the Armory is revisiting the cultural objects in this show. The items here are not presented as an ethnographic exhibition, with the assumption of an understanding of their original cultural context, but rather as an exploration of how we view objects in a museum context, and the reflections of our own identities that we apply to them.

This gathering of objects presents the questions: what is it that we truly understand about other cultures from viewing their art objects in an exhibition? What compels our urge to collect? How is our resonance with cultural objects bound up in our own assumptions about culture and identity? 

From Tuesday, April 15, 2014 12:00 am to Sunday, June 15, 2014 12:00 am

Armory Center for the Arts
145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, CA 91103