Our Museums/Our Memories

January 21, 2018 | 1:30 pm

Deborah Ryan

  • Sainte Marie among the Iroquois Living History Museum, Syracuse, New York. Photo: Debora Ryan, 2013.

As sites of public learning where audiences have come to expect both an educational and enjoyable experience, museums, cultural centers and historic sites have an astounding impact on how knowledge and memory is shaped in the public sphere. This presentation discusses several New York State museums and how public memory has impacted past and present community perspectives. One example includes Sainte Marie among the Iroquois Living History Museum, a 1930s replica of a 17th century Jesuit mission located in Syracuse, New York, that was repurposed as Skä•noñh—The Great Law of Peace Center, a Haudenosaunee Educational Center. Participants are encouraged to engage in active dialogue about their personal experiences and memories related to museums in their community. The goal is for participants to develop new perspectives regarding how knowledge and public memory are constructed by engaging their own stories in dialogue with others.
This program, which is free and open to the public, is made possible through the support of the New York Council for the Humanities’ Public Scholars program.
Dr. Ryan has been working in the museum field for more than twenty years, most recently as senior curator at the Everson Museum of Art from 2003 to 2013. Debora teaches Museum Studies courses at Wells College, Aurora, New York, and is currently teaching Native North American Art at Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences. Ryan has a Ph.D. in Cultural Foundations of Education and a M.A. in Art History from Syracuse University. Her dissertation, A Jesuit Mission in the Salt City: Sainte Marie among the Iroquois Living History Museum, examines the role museums play in constructing knowledge and public memory through an analysis Sainte Marie’s history as the “French Fort” and its transition into a Haudenosaunee Educational Center known as Skä-noñh: Great Law of Peace Center.