Skip to main content
ISU University Museums
Main Content

Experiencing "Unpacked" moved me to get involved

Posted on October 1, 2018 at 4:45 PM by Betsy Grabinski

by Sarah Godfrey, University Museums Intern & Fine Arts Graduate Student


Working within the Unpacked: Refugee Baggage exhibition was a great experience for me as a Fine Arts graduate student at Iowa State. Having the opportunity to help install an exhibition and work within a museum space was wonderful and eye opening because it shows just how much work goes into creating the programs that bring visitors in to experience the art.

Memories of the exhibition that resonate most with me were when visitors, heading to a different destination, were drawn into the space by the call to prayer and the business of Syrian streets, that played on an audio loop within the museum space. Those who stayed to experience full exhibition were moved by the audio and visual components, and at times left with tears in their eyes. One young woman spoke with me after going through the exhibition about how so many do not understand who a refugee is and what they have gone through in their effort to find a safe place to live. We also spoke about how the views of many Americans have been molded by news outlets, allowing less understanding of the plight of refugees.

Exhibition related programs held at the Christian Petersen Art Museum allowed those who visited an opportunity to learn more about refugee experiences in addition to how the refugee process works. I had previously been unaware of the long periods of time, sometimes years or even decades, that it could take for one to reach their destination. It is important for the United States to recognize ways in which it can assist those seeking asylum as a result of wars, persecution or severe economic difficulties.

My personal experience with this exhibition leads me to implore everyone to vote, get involved, take a stand and make your voice heard. If you find yourself as move as I was, there are many local non-profit organizations looking for volunteers.


Godfrey was an intern for University Museums during fall 2018, working exclusively with the Unpacked, Refugee Baggage exhibition. Unpacked was on exhibition in September and October 2018.

© 2024 University Museums, Iowa State University. All rights reserved.