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Through the Looking Glass – Dioramas, Bodies, and Performances in New York

Dioramas are multimedia installations used in museums and popular culture since the 19th century. I study two sets of anthropological dioramas: the ones made for the Museum of Natural History in New York by Franz Boas; and the ones fabricated at the New York State Museum in Albany by Arthur C. Parker. As I will show, dioramas are not only visual dis- plays but also installations with a proper materiality and temporality: they are the stage of multiple performances and work as contact zones between objects, models, makers, and beholders.