From Sea to Seen

A metaLAB conversation with A. Kendra Greene

Exploring the varied museums of Iceland, and how we contend with memory and trauma, fascination and fear, through objects on display.
Cambridge, MA


Thursday, November 5
12–1 pm EDT

From Sea to Seen: a metaLAB conversation with A. Kendra Greene from metaLAB(at)Harvard on Vimeo.

With a population roughly that of St. Louis, Iceland boasts 265 museums: museums of driftwood; museums of birds; museums of sorcery and sea monsters. Here, metaLAB’s Matthew Battles joins a conversation with author A. Kendra Greene, whose lively, wise book explores the collections of this long-isolated, tourist-buffeted nation. At metaLAB, we’re fascinated with & flummoxed by museums large and small. As they assemble objects into networks, they tell stories of power and authority in digital and material worlds. We turn to Greene in hopes of learning how the qualities of memory and trauma, fascination and fear, become bound up in objects on display.

The book is The Museum of Whales You Will Never See: and Other Excursions to Iceland’s Most Unusual Museums (Penguin 2020). [A. Kendra Greene] (…) is a writer and artist who has worked at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Chicago History Museum, the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, and the Dallas Museum of Art, where she was a writer in residence. She has an MFA in nonfiction and a graduate certificate in book arts from the University of Iowa and has been the recipient of a Fulbright grant, a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, and a Harvard Library Innovation Lab Fellowship. She lives in Dallas, Texas, where she is a visiting assistant professor at the University of Texas, a guest artist at Nasher Sculpture Center, and an associate editor at Southwest Review.

This conversation is the second in a series, Making (It) Work, exploring the work books do in the world, in pandemic times and beyond. Curated by metaLAB at Harvard in conjunction with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.