What Happened When Fred Wilson Dug Beneath a Museum’s Floorboards

Flipping through Fred Wilson's Mining the Museum, 1994.

Photos and GIF by Hrag Vartanian for Hyperallergic.

As Laura Raicovich, writer and curator, was reorganizing her book collection, she revisited the catalog produced for artist Fred Wilson’s 1994 project Mining the Museum, which was commissioned by The Contemporary and the Maryland Historical Society. In this Hyperallergic article, Raicovich outlines how Wilson's project remains relevant to the issues museums face today. The artist's installation questioned how museums overlook the histories of Black and enslaved peoples through their object displays and labels. Raicovich claims that Wilson's work served as institutional critique while also highlighting the relationship between museum displays and public histories.

"Herein lies the relevance to today’s pressing questions about how museums operate: If audiences are implicated in the unfolding of history, and in its telling, they become, through Wilson’s project, participants in creating the expertise of the museum and in the ways in which histories are represented." - Laura Raicovich