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Object: TBD

A reflective essay on the nature of the yet-to-be-decided object in Exhibition Design

Field Notes: A Journal of Collegiate Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


In the year 2018 the Field Museum in Chicago, in response to the contemporary demands of inclusivity and decolonization, declared that it will redesign its Native American Hall. The developers and curators, in collaboration with Native American communities and curators from Chicago and elsewhere, came up with a list of 6 ‘truths’ about the community. By basing the show on these truths, the aim was to create a plan for an exhibition that can re-educate the public and dispel stereotypes associated with Native Americans. Within the abstract space of the exhibition plan many spots were labeled OBJECT: TBD (to-be-decided), which, in the final show, would be occupied by objects which hadn’t been finalized yet. This essay is an endeavor to bring out the attributes of this “would be” category (referred to as OBJECT: TBD) that the yet-to-be- decided objects reside in.

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