The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will present the grand opening of its new exhibition Puppetry’s Racial Reckoning, curated by Dr. Jungmin Song, along with the re-opening of a redesigned World of Puppetry: From the Collections of the Ballard Institute exhibition, on Friday, May 28, 2021, by reservation only at the Ballard Institute, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs. A virtual tour will air on Ballard Institute Facebook Live on Friday, May 28, 2021 at 5 p.m. ET. The exhibition will be on display through Oct. 17, 2021.
Puppetry’s Racial Reckoning aims to foster conversation and understanding about the complexities of race, prejudice, stereotypes, and systemic racism by presenting puppets from around the world. The exhibition examines fantasies of the East and misrepresentations of African Americans used in puppetry in relation to social and cultural constructions of race, and asks how fabricated differences affect the actual lives of people. Historical puppets from the Ballard Institute’s collections are juxtaposed with work by contemporary artists such as Kara Walker, Alva Rogers, Michael Richardson, Kimi Maeda, Akbar Imhotep, and Garland Farwell. Puppets from Asia representing different races and ethnicities offer viewers an understanding of race and racism in wider global contexts. Exhibiting puppets from the past in the here-and-now of Puppetry’s Racial Reckoning provides an opportunity to learn from past misrepresentations, consider the extent to which such negative images remain in circulation, contribute to the fight against systemic racism, and discuss possibilities for a more inclusive future. This exhibition is supported in part by a UConn School of Fine Arts Anti-Racism Grant.
Dr. Jungmin Song completed a practice-as-research PhD titled Animating Everyday Objects in Performance at the University of Roehampton in 2014. Her writings have appeared in Performance Research, Artpress 2, Asian Theatre Journal, and Contemporary Theatre Review. In 2017 she edited a special issue of Puppet Notebook on Shakespeare and puppets and was a researcher in residence at the Institut International de la Marionnette (IIM) in Charleville-Mézières, France to lay the ground for a book on Shakespeare and puppetry. As a puppet maker she has participated in numerous projects, including the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Little Angel Theatre’s co-production of Venus and Adonis (2004). She has taught in the fields of theater and fine arts at the University of Roehampton, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Kent.
Due to restrictions and safety precautions related to COVID-19, the museum will reopen on May 28 on Fridays and Saturdays only from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., by reservation. Only one group of up to 6 visitors from a family or quarantine unit will be allowed in the museum at a time during each time slot. Face masks are required at all times when visiting the museum for ages two and up. Hand sanitizer is available throughout the museum and staff clean high-touch surfaces once per hour. Please note that restrooms and water fountains are closed to the public. To learn more about the Ballard Institute’s COVID-19 protocols and to reserve a time slot, visit: bimp.uconn.edu/about/covid-policies/. Visitors may also reserve a time slot by calling 860.486.8580 on Fridays and Saturdays.