Traveling Exhibition Makes a Powerful Social Impact
Samaya Nasr, a lecturer in the RIT Department of History and recent addition to the College of Liberal Arts faculty, earned two awards for her role in the production of “Acts of Faith: Religion and the American West,” a traveling exhibition now on display at the New-York Historical Society Museum and Library (N-YHS) in New York City.
"The exhibit itself has high social impact, since it will inevitably enrich the mind of the general public with seldom discussed stories on U.S. western expansion and its relationship to religion in this country,” explained Nasr. “Our displays bring to life the struggles and exploits of diverse Native peoples, Protestant missionaries, Mormon settlers, Catholic communities, African American migrants, Jewish traders, and Chinese immigrant workers. The exhibit includes an ethical portrayal of under-represented communities and a respectful narration of sensitive histories.”
To tell the stories, the exhibit gives the public unprecedented access to a collection of historical and visual materials from the Society’s own rich collections, as well as those from other museums, tribal archives, and private collections around the country, she explained. Nasr, who served as the Society’s exhibition design intern, participated in research and design production for the exhibit and problem-solved to incorporate technical and material enhancements such as fabric lightboxes and fabric non-lit frames that provide a cost-effective, sustainable, and easy way to transport displays from one exhibit location to the next.
For her role in producing the exhibit, Nasr earned a Visual and Performing Arts Graduate Student Memorial Scholarship and Fellowship (for outstanding and deserving graduate student design) and the Antiochian Women Scholarship 2022.
This semester, Nasr brings her experience and expertise to the RIT campus as she teaches several museum studies courses. “I’m using my experience for my fall RIT course MUSE-354 Exhibition Design as proof of the diversity of field applications of the Museum Studies program curriculum, encouraging current and future enrolled students to apply for all possible area-specific internships. I hope to also pave the way for future RIT students to be considered for internships at N-YHS,” she said. “The combination of software I used to achieve my final renders, which deviated from those adopted by the Exhibitions Department but were positively received, can be incorporated in the course curriculum for faster, more realistic and user-friendly layouts.”
Prior to joining the RIT faculty, Nasr earned a master’s in architecture from University of Balamand and master’s of art in museum studies from Syracuse University.