Museum exhibition asks, ‘Why do we collect?’

A new collector-focused exhibition at the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum in Canton, Ohio, aims to answer the question, “Why do we collect?”

Opened in July and on display until mid-January, the exhibition features 30 “ordinary objects,” according to the museum’s Executive Director Kim Kenney, accompanied by stories from their donors regarding why they’re special and worth collecting. Throughout the display, the objects inspire viewers to consider several collector-related behaviours, including why individual people and museums collect, how items should be cared for and authenticated plus how collectors assign meaning to material objects and the psychology behind collecting.

“We have two cases in this exhibition that focus on President McKinley,” said Kenney, referencing the museum’s namesake, William McKinley, the 25th president of the United States, who served from 1897 until his assassination in 1901. “One of the artifacts I wanted to point out for you today is this broken cane.”

The cane – shown alongside several contemporary coins – is broken “on purpose,” Kenney added.

“The family story goes that McKinley was with the photographer and his cane broke, and he handed it to the photographer, who kept it and passed it down through his family.”

To illustrate the process of conservation in museums, two of First Lady Ida McKinley’s gowns are also displayed alongside detailed information about the conservation treatment they received to stabilize them.

The exhibition also explores how museums collect “history in the making,” Kenney said, with a selection of COVID-19-related items collected by the staff in their daily lives.

Another section of the exhibition explores the evolution of lighting devices and telephones to explain how museums document everyday life over time.


Leave a Reply

Canadian Coin News


Canadian Coin News is Canada's premier source of information about coins, notes and medals.

Although we cover the entire world of numismatics, the majority of our readers are Canadian, and we concentrate on the unique circumstances surrounding collecting in our native land.

Send Us Your Event

Running an event? Send it to us and we will display it on Canadian Coin News!

Submit Event →

Subscribe To 26 Issues For Just $59.99/year

Subscribe today to receive Canada's premier coin publication. Canadian Coin News is available in both paper and digital forms.

Subscribe Now

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.