Our Own Devices: Exploring the Tools of Cravens World


May 2–November 8, 2015



Our Own Devices presents a variety of tools from the Cravens’ World collection at the UB Anderson Gallery. Exploring what a tool can be—whether in a traditional sense or more abstractly—this exhibit analyzes humanity as a tool-using species. By engaging critically with the notion of ‘tools’, we redefine what tools are to us, from our earliest hand axes to our latest Smartphones. At their core, tools are created and utilized by people to perform tasks that would otherwise be physically difficult or physiologically impossible. However, tools are also used to communicate with others about who we are, including socially through cultural performances such as dances, or religiously for sacred rituals. Beyond what we use tools to do, the practice of tool use invariably affects the users. The arc of history reflects the technology of the time, with new innovations often leading to social, political, or spiritual change. It is not just humans who make tools, but tools also make humans. 


This exhibit is the product of UB’s Anthropology Museum Studies course and new interdisciplinary Masters Program in Critical Museum Studies program, a collaboration between the students and instructors, with the research and exhibit planning performed by undergraduate and graduate students from a multitude of disciplines.