The Haffenreffer ‘Fun Size’ Museum

What could a tribal leader in Cameroon have in common with the chancellor of an Ivy League university? The two exhibitions at the Haffenreffer Museum help illustrate how leaders of all types around the world use symbols, images, and regalia to impart and bolster their power and prestige. Curated by the museum student group the “Images of Power: Rulership in the Grasslands of Cameroon” exhibit draws upon the Haffenreffer Museum’s Cameroonian collections to examine the decorative arts of the fon’s palace. (In the northwest grasslands of Cameroon, hundreds of independent kingdoms are ruled by monarchs called fons. And I looked it up, ‘fon’ is a good Scrabble word.)

On the other side of the room, and a world away, is “In Deo Speramus: The Symbols and Ceremonies of Brown University” which explores the unique history of the university by offering an up-close view of numerous objects, documents, and photographs, as well as the President’s robe and official chain, and the university’s massive mace (paging Dr. Freud). The exhibition examines the many symbols and ceremonies and bears that are etched into Brown’s architecture and traditions. Can’t have too many bears.

This is a small museum. Guardian and greeter Tony Belz is very knowledgeable but will leave you alone until you ask him something which is exactly how you want it to be.

Free and open to the public, exhibits run through May, Tuesdays through Sundays, 10am to 4pm, Haffenreffer Museum, Manning Hall, College Green, Brown University, 21 Prospect Street

carved bear

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