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Presence of the Past

In the course of our lives, we are sometimes told to forget about the past, or to move on – to live in the present. Such advice overlooks the fact that our past, and so our memories, form the architecture of the here and now. We can draw out new ideas and life lessons each time we look to our history. The past is, in this sense, always present. The objects collected here attest to the significance of the past as a basis of wisdom, a foundation for identity, and a source of comfort.


Knowing stories about your ancestors and your own life course can be an empowering tool. The objects grouped represent for their keepers the importance of reflecting on the past in order to be true to who you are. Such understandings also help to ensure the continuation of your legacy for future generations.

Contributions by: Nick Smith, Calvin White, Cheryl Brown, and Floyd K. Ferguson


We often think of our minds working like computers – taking in data, processing and storing it, and then retrieving it on command. Where a memory is lost, the data has been corrupted. But what if recollection doesn’t work quite like that? What if our memories, and broader histories, are constantly being reinvented through the very process of remembering? The objects grouped here highlight the fuzzy nature of historical “truth,” and quests to reconstruct the past.  

Contributions by: Juan Delgado, Bill Schumacher, and Barbara Rugeley

Memory Lane

When thinking of childhood, some ache to reconnect with a person they have lost. Others recall times that were simpler or otherwise representative of qualities that have been lost. Nostalgia, that sentimental longing and affection for the past, can also be an act of honoring a legacy. The objects grouped here evoke this sense of wistful sentimentality for people, places, and times that are gone, but remembered

Contributions by: Janet Alvarenga, Alice Todd, and Ron Chick

Looking Back, Pushing Forward

The challenges of life can leave us searching for meaning and guidance. Some turn to religion to help find their way. Others look to an adage, family support, or professional counseling. For the keepers of the objects grouped here, it is a memory that helps to bring clarity, reassurance, and resilience to their pursuits. Each of these objects serve as talismans for their keepers – conduits for summoning serenity and strength through the process of remembering.​

Contributions by: Wilmer Amina Carter, Roxy Gantes, Delila Vasquez, and Fatima Cristerna-Adame

Select stories are available online now. Additional stories will be made available after the exhibition closes in March 2017.