Sorting Out Race: Examining Racial Identity and Stereotypes in Thrift Store Donations

Every day thrift stores across America receive donations of objects that display racial imagery—antique advertising cards, collectible salt-and-pepper shakers, vintage children’s books, and mugs with sports team mascots. Are these objects harmless reminders of historical attitudes or do they continue to perpetuate negative stereotypes about race? Should thrift stores sell these objects? Or should they be “sorted out” of the resale environment and discarded?

Sorting Out Race arose out of a desire to divert artifacts with racial content from thrift stores to an exhibit that would generate a healthy community conversation about racial stereotypes past and present in order to heighten awareness of our continuing struggles with race.

Original exhibit concept by Leia Lawrence.

Exhibition designed and produced by Kauffman Museum at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas. The exhibit team: Nicole Eitzen, Jake Harris, David Kreider, Annette LeZotte, Paloma Olais, Rachel Pannabecker, Chuck Regier.

Kauffman Museum gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the many individuals who shaped our thinking during exhibition development, including our humanities consultant Dr. Robert E. Weems, Jr.

Exhibit Support
Kauffman Museum Association
Fransen Family Foundation
Schowalter Foundation
Newton Et Cetera Shop Local Giving Grant
Kansas Humanities Council, a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to promoting humanities programs across Kansas

A traveling exhibit: Sorting Out Race has been designed to travel and is available for booking.

Exhibit Fee: $6000, for a 6-8 week booking, additional weeks $750. (20% deposit required to reserve exhibit)

Shipping: Inbound shipping, cost to be negotiated. Kauffman Museum to be responsible for shipping arrangements.

Space Requirements: 1200 sq/ft

Installation Assistance: One staff person arrives with the exhibit to assist host venue with installation.

Environment and Security: Host venue to assure a museum quality exhibit environment, with stable temperature and humidity, appropriate light levels and adequate security.

Crates and Storage: Designed around a modular system, the shipping crates serve as the exhibit units so there are a limited number of crates that require storage.

Contact Chuck Regier, Curator of Exhibits or David Kreider, Museum Technician

Upcoming venues • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

September 1, 2019-February 29, 2020
Arizona State Museum, Tucson, AZ

Available for Booking

Past venues • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

June 1 - August 15, 2019
The Kansas African American Museum, Wichita, KS

April 1-May 5, 2019
The Depot MCC Thrift Shop, Goshen, IN

January 14-March 15, 2019
McPherson Museum, McPherson, KS

September 24-October 11, 2018
Rainbow Mennonite Church, Kansas City, KS,

January 8-March 10, 2018
Arkansas State University Museum, Jonesboro, AR

August 15 – October 28, 2017
Smoky Hill Museum, Salina, KS

March 27 – May 20, 2017
Renton History Museum, Renton WA

September 6 - October 28, 2016
California State University, Fresno CA

February 2 - March 31, 2016
The Prairie Museum, Colby KS

February 27 - May 24, 2015
Kauffman Museum

This exhibit received the 2018 American Association of State and Local History Leadership in History Award

Installation photos

Download Exhibit description

Exhibit design layout PDFs

316•283•1612   kauffman@bethelks.edu
For more information...