Connecting Through Collecting
Virtually everyone collects something at some point in their life, and they each have a story to tell about why they do it. What causes this impulse to collect? What do we do with the items we collect? What is their value? To whom are they valuable? And what does what we collect tell us about ourselves?
Beloit Collects! features objects from collections belonging to members of the Beloit campus community–students, staff, and faculty–and the “collecting stories” that accompany those objects. In relating these stories, we engage questions about the relationship of collecting to the past, to memory, to materiality, and to value; and we also explore how collecting, in different ways, is fed by the urge to classify, categorize, fetishize, and possess.
As you view the various items that make up these collections, we invite you to think about how these questions might play into your own relationships with objects.
This exhibit was curated by Professor Donna Oliver's MUST 295 Collecting Stories: Objects and Their Owners.
Greer Simmons ‘22
Margaret Buagh is currently a senior at Beloit. She technically began collecting in eighth grade after finding a mug with a festive penguin on it in her kitchen cupboard. However, she became an active collector during her freshman year of college. She visited New York in the summer and, when visiting gift shops, found herself continually drawn to souvenir mugs. At the end of this trip, she had assembled a few different mugs, and finally began to consider herself a collector. By the end of her first year of college she had amassed about ten mugs. Since then, her collection has only continued to grow, currently standing at 105 mugs. Margaret displays these items on a bookcase at home, and she is actively growing her collection. She often purchases new mugs as souvenirs when she is traveling or as a way of treating herself. She has also been gifted mugs by friends and family. Some of her mugs have more sentimental value than others do based on where she got them, and others are valued because she uses them more often. While all of her mugs technically have utility as drinking vessels, the majority of them are not actively used in this way. For example, only seven of them are used in the manner of their traditional purpose. She uses two of them as snack bowls, and a few others as receptacles for useful objects (such as facemasks and chapstick). Margaret asserts that mugs make the best gifts because they have a utilitarian purpose but can also be appreciated aesthetically based on an individual’s interests and personality.
Many thanks to our Collectors: