The effort to conserve things is part of the human struggle with the pervasive activity of matter. This online exhibition, which presents conservation as a form of inquiry in four parts, explores the activity of matter through items that span five continents and range in time from the Paleolithic to the present. Encompassing items that clothe and shelter us, those that engage our imagination, both sacred and profane, those that reflect our interest in the past, and those that continue to enable the performance of the past in the present, the exhibition envisions conservation as vital to the lives of the things that sustain us.

This project is an online companion to the Conserving Active Matter exhibition held at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery March 25–July 10, 2022.