Over the last five years, the Davis has acquired thousands of artworks through gifts and purchases. At the same time, staff members have asked new questions about what the Davis can be, as an institution committed to stewarding and interpreting artworks from the past and of the present. As Achille Mbembe has argued, museums have historically served racist colonial structures that imagined most people in the world to exist “outside of time.” What happens to our experiences of time if we try to, as author Ariella Aïsha Azoulay describes, “rewind the imperial condition”? In classes, extracurricular decolonial theory reading sessions, and staff meetings, Wellesley students and employees have read curator Yesomi Umolu’s call to care for bodies and their politics. In our galleries, we invite you to join us in inventing visual and corporeal experiences that can reorient our understandings of time, race, museums, and empire. 

These recent acquisitions contribute to shifting narratives at Wellesley and in the museum field writ large. “Recent” may imply “new,” but in these galleries—and those that surround it—we witness how objects come into the museum marked by their histories. Through the care, labor, and time of many, they become parts of ongoing human stories—at the Davis and around the world.

Curated by Amanda Gilvin, Sonja Novak Koerner '51 Senior Curator and Assistant Director of Curatorial Affairs, Telling Time is supported by The Anonymous '70 Endowed Museum Program Fund.