Collected over the course of more than 125 years, the materials in Subjects and Objects pose questions and highlight contradictions: How did the term Slavic collection come to encompass materials from so many lands, cultures, and languages that lie beyond that linguistical designation? How did Russia come to symbolize this region for Western observers—and why does that impression persist?
This exhibit explores how the Slavic collections from Yale’s libraries and museums present a chronicle of lived experience. Although the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe are all represented in the collections, the exhibit focuses on what are known as the Russian and Soviet “great powers” and their impact on the intellectual record. It considers the many ways in which collections are built, raising questions about future acquisitions: What lies ahead for the study of this region, which has been shaped by its own history and by the representation of that history in academic institutions? What role do collectors, researchers, and their subjects play in shaping cultural heritage collections?