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Exhibition and story exchange explores history, future of mass incarceration
Exterior view of Mount McGregor Correctional Facility in Moreau, New York, in the fall of 2015. Photograph by Dorothea Trufelman ’16.


SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY.- On September 2, States of Incarceration, the first national traveling multimedia exhibition and coordinated public dialogue to explore the history and future of mass incarceration in the United States, opens at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College. Skidmore partnered with the Humanities Action Lab, a coalition of 20 university and college public history and documentary studies programs affiliated with the New School, and worked with over 500 students and formerly incarcerated individuals across the U.S. to create the traveling exhibition, which launched in New York City in April 2016.

The exhibition and project, the culmination of two years of planning and discussion between the communities, is a national public reckoning with one of the most pressing issues facing our country. Using many tools of truth and reconciliation processes, the twenty communities explored the deep historical roots of incarceration, shared personal stories related to the issue, and strategized ways of enacting policy change.

In each location, the traveling exhibition and public programs focus on an issue of incarceration unique to that community. Skidmore students, working with Professor Eric Morser starting in the fall 2015 course "Adventures in Public History: The Prison Project," focused on Mount McGregor prison, closed by state officials in 2014.

They interviewed men who were convicted of a variety of crimes, as well as prison staff and others. They collected images and artifacts, and toured and photographed the prison. Morser says the project "gave us a great opportunity to talk about how public historians conduct their research, the choices they have to make, and how they present their findings." He also said, “America has been engaged in a heated and emotional dialogue about these issues. Hopefully this exhibit will help foster the discussion."

During the exhibition, open from September 2 through October 11, the following series of public programs will allow for discussions and explorations of issues surrounding incarceration in the United States:





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