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Haffenreffer museum planned to move from Bristol to Providence

Grant funds cataloging, organization of University anthropology museum's collection

The University plans to relocate the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology from Mount Hope in Bristol, Rhode Island — the site of a 2017 protest encampment by the Pokanoket Nation — to an unknown location in Providence, according to a Jan. 7 University press release. A timeline for the move does not yet exist.

The cataloguing and relocation of the Haffenreffer’s holdings, which include a large number of artifacts from indigenous peoples and various societies across the globe, will be funded by a $5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant should allow the museum to more easily consolidate its operations, which are currently divided between Bristol and Providence, the announcement stated. The University is “currently exploring potential spaces near the Brown campus” to serve as the new, singular location for the museum, according to the press release.

The Mellon Foundation’s grant will also allow scholars and the public to increase their access to the museum’s holdings, according to the announcement. The Haffenreffer has been almost entirely closed to the public since 2008 because the museum does not meet fire code requirements for large numbers of people, said Russell Carey, executive vice president for planning and policy.

Members of the Pokanoket Nation began their encampment in Aug. 2017 in protest of the University’s ownership of the Mount Hope property where the museum is located, The Herald previously reported. The encampment ended Sept. 25, 2017, as the University agreed to transfer a portion of the Bristol property into a preservation trust.

Robert Preucel, director of the Haffenreffer Museum, hopes that the relocation of the Haffenreffer to Providence will help facilitate the “study of indigenous culture” in New England, according to the press release.

An earlier version of this article was titled "Haffenreffer museum to move from Bristol to Providence," when in fact it is more correct to say that the move is planned. In addition, an earlier version of this article stated that the Andrew W. Mellon grant will allow the museum to consolidate operations, when in fact it is more accurate to state that the grant will make it easier for the museum to consolidate operations. The Herald regrets the error.

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