Annie Abernathy


Annie Abernathy

Annie Abernathy is a senior in the History of Art and Architecture department, with minors in Museum Studies and French. She is interested in themes of identity and materiality as well as the relationship between the museum and its publics. She currently volunteers at the Andy Warhol Museum, assisting in curatorial research. Her senior thesis, advised by Alex Taylor, recontextualizes the children’s book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in a larger understanding of the role of the museum in demarcating highly-contested boundaries of race, class, and value during the 1960s. 

"From the Mixed-Up Files of E. L. Konigsburg: Mysteries of Value and Belonging in the Museum"
Advisor: Alex Taylor

Since its publication, E. L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler has shaped the popular imagination concerning museums and collecting. Published in 1967, the illustrated chapter book follows the narrative of two children running away from their suburban home to live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and stumbling upon a mystery concerning the attribution of a work of Renaissance sculpture. Konigsburg presents a sanitized image of the rarified world of the museum and art connoisseurship, seemingly severed from any social or historical bearings. However, through a close-reading of the book’s early edits, illustrations, and engagement with the Met’s own history, my argument reveals an encounter and negotiation of the role of the art museum to demarcate highly-contested boundaries of race, class, and value. Drawing on the author’s archives held at the University of Pittsburgh and Konigsburg’s own later reflections of the text, my paper recontextualizes the internal narrative that Konigsburg herself understands as the subject of her book is merely the foreground in a broader consideration of social upheaval in urban America during the 1960s.

You can view the complete HAAARCH!!! 2021 program at HAA news.

  • HAAARCH!!! 2021