The Provenance Project



Wheaton College Undergraduates Uncover the History Behind Attleboro Arts Museum Permanent Collection Objects


Exhibition: February 10th – 23rd, 2018

Opening Reception: Saturday, February 10th from 4-5:30pm

  • Reception is free and open to all
  • Voice performance from Wheaton Gospel and R&B a cappella group/band Voices United to Jam
  • Reservations are not required, but are appreciated, by Thursday, February 8th. Call 508-222-2644 x10 or email



Initial slide of a StoryMap by Wheaton sophomore Mackenzie Lewia.


Since fall 2013, Wheaton College undergraduates enrolled in Art History courses have conducted provenance, or history of ownership, research on objects in Wheaton’s Permanent Collection. Taught by Leah Niederstadt, Assistant Professor of Museum Studies & Curator of the Permanent Collection in the Department of Art and Art History, “The Provenance Project” allows the students to take on the role of investigator and uncover the history behind paintings, drawings, prints and other objects. 


Last spring, Niederstadt met with Mim Brooks Fawcett, the Attleboro Arts Museum’s Executive Director and Chief Curator, and proposed that her students conduct provenance research on objects in the museum’s collection. The museum considers Wheaton to be a trusted partner that has contributed to many of its programs. Thanks to visiting faculty members, student interns and volunteer support, Wheaton has had a positive effect on the museum’s art and cultural offerings for several years.   


Fawcett embraced Niederstadt’s outreach and proposal. During a class visit to the museum, she met with 17 Introduction to Museum Studies students and acquainted them with a selection of objects from the museum’s collection. Each student then chose an object and spent the semester tracking its provenance. Supported by workshops with Wheaton staff and meetings with Niederstadt, they used primary and secondary sources to uncover each object’s provenance narrative. Students worked with online databases and with materials held in the Attleboro Public Library and in the college’s Wallace Library and its Gebbie Archives & Special Collections. Several even visited the former homes and gravesites of the Attleboro residents who once owned their chosen object. Each student then created a detailed and enlightening digital StoryMap to illustrate their object’s movement over space and time and to explain how it ultimately found a spot in the museum’s collection.


The undergrads, who represent all class years and 7-8 different majors, chose objects that range from a Civil War First Aid Kit to a signed Matisse lithograph.


All 17 objects and accompanying StoryMaps will be exhibited at the museum along with Wheaton-owned objects on which previous students conducted provenance research.  “The Provenance Project” will be on view from February 10th – 23rd, 2018.


“The Provenance Project” runs parallel to “Extracurricular – A Pop-up Exhibition Featuring Original Artwork Created by Attleboro Public School Visual Arts Faculty Members,” on display from February 10th – 16th.  “The Provenance Project” will be on view in the museum’s Ottmar Gallery, Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm.  On Saturday, February 17th, the museum will hold evening hours during downtown Attleboro’s Winter Night Festival from 5pm – 9pm. 


An opening reception for “The Provenance Project” will be held on Saturday, February 10th from 4-5:30pm.  This event is free and open to all and will include a voice performance from Wheaton Gospel and R&B a cappella group/band Voices United to Jam. Reservations are not required, but are appreciated, by Thursday, February 8th.  Telephone: 508-222-2644 x10 or



Top: Birds with Strawberries (detail) by Ioline Bacon, oil on canvas. Birds with Strawberries was researched by Brianna Medas, Wheaton Class of 2020. 



Special Feature: Visit the Attleboro Arts Museum on Valentine’s Day, Wednesday, February 14th, from 12pm – 4:30pm and meet Michelle Pupa of Belle Flora Floral and Event Designs.  Michelle will be creating floral arrangements in the museum’s Ottmar Gallery. Partial proceeds of all floral purchases will benefit museum programs and exhibitions. 




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