Wise Fools: Hidden Gems at the Haffenreffer


Curious about sophomore life and learning at Brown? Here you hear about the best and worst parts of being a second year at Brown.  Follow a wise fool (from the Greek sophos or wise and moros or fool) and aspiring Classicist Hannah Liu around Brown and the surrounding area as she explores from a student’s point of view. 

The first week I came to Brown, my Dad insisted on seeing the Haffenreffer Anthropology Museum, which is between the Campus Center and University Hall (the offices of the President and the Deans) on the Main Green.  Since then, every time my parents have come to visit we have visited the Haffenreffer.  It’s a great resource on campus, and I’d always heard that students could participate in the museum works.  In fact, there is a Haffenreffer student group that recently has mounted an exhibition about Cameroonian kings, and they’re hosting a movie night this Wednesday.

I thought I’d give a shout out to the Haffenreffer this week because I’ve had a pretty cool experience there.  I’m in a class this semester called Anthropology in/of the Museum, which allows us to explore the discipline in a hands-on manner.  The project for this week has to do with object handling and discovery, and my classmates and I each got to request an object for study from the Culture Lab.  As an aspiring Classics major, I was hoping to get something from Rome, but didn’t expect that they’d let a sophomore handle such precious and delicate objects.  Fortunately for me, they would much rather someone learns from the object than keep it “safe” in a box on a shelf.  As a result, I’ve been working with an oil lamp from Ancient Roman Europe – which is SO COOL!!

This weekend was the 250th anniversary of Brown’s founding, so my parents came up to visit again and we went to the Haffenreffer as usual.  We checked out the exhibit about Brown for a little bit, and then I asked the guard if I could show my family the object I’ve been working with.  Instead of just letting me show them through the glass container, he took it out of the case and let them all (even my 10 year old brother) handle it!  Then, he took out some objects from Ancient Egypt and let them look at those too!  It was really great, and really special.

At Brown, there are loads of hidden gems.  There are amazing people, places, or artifacts – in this case all three.  Make sure to explore Brown as a first-year so that as a sophomore you can fully take part in what this university has to offer.

What are some questions that you have about Brown?  Is there anything specific that you would like to read about in Wise Fools?  Please email me at Hannah_Liu@Brown.edu with any suggestions, comments, questions, or concerns!


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