Rhode Island Hall seems to be one of the more unnoticed buildings on the Main Green—some only know it as Joukowsky, while others have never set foot inside. Little do people know that Rhode Island Hall has an incredibly cool history… and even used to home to a large collection of taxidermy (among other things). Yes, you read correctly.
Rhode Island Hall was built in 1840 to create new space for the Departments of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, Mineralogy, Geology, and Natural History. Its name reflected the fact that the building was almost funded entirely by Rhode Islanders. The second floor of Rhode Island Hall was also Brown’s Museum of Natural History, which displayed a large variety of taxidermy and osteological species.
This building was also home to Professor J. W. P. Jenk’s weekly class in taxidermy in the 1870s. According to the Joukowsky Institute’s website, Professor Jenks passed away on the very steps of Rhode Island Hall in 1894.
Starting in 1857, Rhode Island Hall held a collection of portraits of prominent people in Rhode Island, but after adding a biology lab to the building’s basement, the portraits were then moved to Sayles Hall. Over the course of the 1900s, some of the departments in Rhode Island Hall, including Biology, Philosophy, and Geology, were moved to other places on campus.
Today, Rhode Island Hall is home to the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World. In addition to having gorgeous, well-lit study spaces, The Joukowsky Institute does an awesome job creating displays around the building to teach students about Rhode Island Hall’s fascinating history.