Brown University to move Haffenreffer Museum from Bristol to Providence

BROWN UNIVERSITY'S Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology will move its artifacts and staff from Bristol to renovated space at 1 Davol Square in Providence in the fall of 2025. / COURTESY BROWN UNIVERSITY
BROWN UNIVERSITY'S Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology will move its artifacts and staff from Bristol to renovated space at 1 Davol Square in Providence in the fall of 2025. / COURTESY BROWN UNIVERSITY

PROVIDENCE – Those looking to observe Brown University’s 1 million ethnographic objects and archaeological specimens displayed in the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology will have an easier time doing so in the fall of 2025.

The Ivy League institution recently announced that the museum will move its collections and staff from Bristol to a newly renovated spot at 1 Davol Square in the city’s Jewelry District after next academic year. The renovations to 1 Davol Square – which Brown has owned since 2007 – will commence next fall, Brown says.

The museum, Brown says, has been split between two locations, with exhibition and event space being maintained in the center of Brown’s campus and the Bristol location housing the artifacts and staff. However, having the museum be split across 17 miles presents “less than ideal access,” Brown said, hence the need to move.

Plus, Brown staff is looking to create space that features teaching, research and exhibition space, as well as opportunities for community engagement, the university said. Also, Robert Preucel, director of the Haffenreffer Museum and a professor of anthropology at Brown, said in a statement the move will open up new opportunities for scholarship, community outreach and partnership with Indigenous communities across the world.

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Brown also said the buildings in Bristol that house the artifacts are more than 80 years old. The issues that presents to the museum, Brown says, include climate control, inadequate storage space and frequently moving historical artifacts between Bristol and the Brown campus.

“Moving to Providence won’t just put us in a multicultural center and a transit hub where we are more visible and more accessible to folks,” Haffenreffer Museum Associate Director Christina Hodge said in a statement. “It will also make our everyday museum work easier. We’re getting to reorganize objects and staff in a way that takes better care of the collections, organizes things in more rational ways and allows staff to serve the community more effectively.”

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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