Prompted by Mieke Bal’s call for a return to the practice of “close reading,” the Object Biographies project was initiated in 2013 in the context of a core postgraduate unit in History of Art at the University of the Witwatersrand called “Writing Art’s Histories.” Each student is tasked with the writing of a “biography” of a single museum “object.” For three years running, in a close collaboration between colleagues in History of Art and at Wits Art Museum, we have transformed the resulting research into a series of exhibitions and books: Lifelines, 2014 (Brenner et al. 2014), Life–Line–Knot, 2015 (Brenner et al. 2015a), and Lifescapes, 2017 (Brenner et al. 2016). In a chapter in a recent book about different forms of engagement with the museum’s collections, I explore two overarching pedagogical themes inherent in the project (Wintjes, 2015). The first looks at the “object biography” approach as a particular kind of art-historical inquiry that creates productive bridges between focused studies of individual objects, and larger-scale understandings of the world in which we live. The second involves a concern for the creation of balance in the curriculum between theoretical and empirical approaches, with a view to encouraging students to become active creators of knowledge from the beginning of their postgraduate experiences. In this follow-up paper, I consider how this project addresses some of the concerns around transformation in higher education, drawing particular attention to the way it transforms the relationship between students and knowledge creation; excites curiosity through its detective-like nature; roots postgraduate research experiences in a South African context; and engages students actively in societal issues through a particular investigation and entanglement with objects of material culture that reflect and embody a range of social and historical networks and relationships. Based on the premise that research is ultimately subversive, to examine the presence of these objects in a South African museum, and the ways in which they have traversed different socio-economies, allows for a questioning of the current world order, and prepares students for a life of applied critical thought.