Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Museum Anthropology Leaders: David Delgado Shorter, Professor & Vice Chair, Department of World Arts and Culture, University of California - Los Angeles, Part 1 of 2

Exclusive Museum Anthropology Blog Interview with David Delgado Shorter, Professor & Vice Chair, Department of World Arts and Culture, University of California - Los Angeles.

This interview is the fifth installment in our series, Museum Anthropology Leaders, where blog intern Lillia McEnaney will be interviewing various anthropological museum professionals. This interview is very different than the rest, for Dr. Shorter is the first interviewee who is not a classical museum anthropologist. 

This interview was conducted over written email correspondence. 

This is Part 1 of 2

Q: Can you please explain to the readers how your familial and cultural background impacted your decision to study culture?
A: I grew up in Alamogordo, New Mexico, near where the first atom bomb was tested. My father worked out in the desert on top-secret projects and I spent my years before preschool living with my great grandmother in the housing projects. My mother made sure that I was very connected to her family’s history. We regularly visited my great, great grandmother (whose brother ran with Billy the Kid) up in Lincoln County. Because my father was of German-mixed ancestry, and my mother of mixed Hispanic/Mexican/Indian ancestry, and because I spent my weekdays in the projects but weekends living in the wealthier subdivisions of the city, and because we lived near an air force base with many people moving in and out from different countries, I think I was quite early aware of cultural differences in term of ethnicity, class, and nationality. We were often traveling through the Mescalero Apache community up the highway as well, so early on I was fascinated by religious differences as they could be discerned through ritual and self-representation. Of course, at the time we are not consciously strategizing these factors into what we call our drives or motivations; looking back, I can now see how these environments and communities shaped me.

Q: You mentioned that you got your start in digital curation. Can you please elaborate on this?
A: After graduating from the History of Consciousness Department at UCSC in 2002, I
was noticing how the Internet seemed to be a game changer. (See a comparison here). For example, the now bankrupt Borders Books, Inc. had stores in almost every city. I wanted to test the waters of new modes of publishing, so to speak. I applied to the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at NYU for one of their small grants to develop an online research project. With their, I think it was $3,000.00, and some of my own monies, I realized that a website could meet multiple purposes at once. If done well, a website could attract non-academics and teach them some things about a culture or tribe without playing into ethnic voyeurism. A site could help academics by providing them research, field notes, and media. For the community being represented, such a site could also include archival materials not easily seen elsewhere as well as language tutorials. And unlike a book, the site could be revised, be free, and have a discussion blog. That site was my first opportunity to not only think about what should be used to represent, but how the act of representation might best be accomplished through the graphics, design, and dynamics of the represented culture. The color choices, the movement between screens, and the primary language were all from Yoeme (Yaqui) practices. The result ended up being a product that enabled my tribal collaborators to recognize that I had been paying close attention for the previous, at that point, ten years. Since they were primarily not literate, seeing and hearing my representational work meant a lot to them. Kids enjoyed seeing their language on something as cutting-edge as the Internet.

Q: Seth [Schermerhorn, Hamilton College, Religious Studies Department] informed me that you worked closely with the Yaqui collection at UCLA. Can you reflect on your experience curating this collection at the Fowler?
A: The Fowler Museum told me in 2013 that they had a collection of Yaqui masks
contributed to them by Carlos Castaneda. I was immediately interested in working with
them since supposedly Castaneda had contrived all of his fieldwork among the Yoemem
(Yaquis). Before this experience, I had primarily worked only with intangible materials or
original works by indigenous artists, so this was the first time I “put on the gloves” as a
curator of objects. I went into their collections with their specialists and we examined
what they had been given and the condition of the masks. They also had some incredible rattles made from moth cocoons. From their larger collection, there were a few that would have been quite exciting to show but tribal codes of conduct do not allow for their display. It was an easy decision to exclude them since their absence would not have detracted from a still very exciting display. And we are quite fortunate that in the Yoeme case, the particular mask genre we displayed, the pascola or pahko’ola masks, do not have any ontological status in and of themselves. While the masks ceremonially have and instill much power, Yoeme artists also make them to be displayed on walls as crafts of incredible skill and beauty.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Now Accepting Exhibition Announcement Submissions

The Museum Anthropology Editors, Tony Chavarria and Dr. Maxine McBrinn, and Blog Intern Lillia McEnaney are now accepting submissions for exhibition announcements. 

If you would like your exhibition covered on the Council for Museum Anthropology's blog, please send an email to or directly to Lillia.

Please feel free to include press releases, images, and curatorial remarks in addition to the basic exhibition announcement. 

Although we cannot guarantee the posting of all shows, we will do our best to publish information about exhibits that we feel are most relevant to the readers of Museum Anthropology

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Position Announcement: Chief Curator, IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico



Chief Curator reports to the Museum Director and is responsible for the management, development and staff of the Museum’s Exhibitions Department. This incumbent is also responsible for the development of all of the Museum’s exhibitions, and associated materials for local, national and international audiences for the advancement, discourse, knowledge, and understanding of contemporary Native arts. Supports and complies with IAIA’s vision, mission, and core values.

-Curate and implement engaging contemporary Native art exhibitions for local, national and international audiences.
-Develop, write and manage exhibition didactic/educational related materials including articles, catalogs and other materials associated with IAIA Museum exhibitions.
-Supervise, direct, train and manage curatorial staff.
-Complete ongoing research related to contemporary Native arts and museum related practices.
-Provide leadership in the presentation, research, and display of contemporary Native Art.
-Oversee financial resources assigned to the exhibition department, which include but is not limited to the following:
  • develop and present annual budget; monitor and analyze expenditures;
  •  collaborate with the development departments to seek additional funding and grants;
  •  manage grants and write grant reports to funder, detailing expenses.

-Plan and organize the daily and long-term activities of the IAIA Museum galleries.
-Provide tours of the exhibitions to individuals, dignitaries, donors, members, schools, etc.
-Write, review and edit museum educational materials for publication.
-Collaborate with Program Manager, Graphic Designer and other IAIA/Museum staff to promote public relations and marketing materials for exhibitions.
-Collaborate with and communicate regularly with national, international Native and local press to insure good publicity of exhibitions.
-Negotiate and work with national, international, Native and local magazine ad costs.
-Collaborate with Program Manager to develop, organize and plan symposia, lectures and seminars for IAIA community and general public on topical issues regarding contemporary Native art.
-Responsible for exhibition and exhibit program development in collaboration with Program Manager and implementation including contract negotiation, staff supervision, exhibit design and installation.
-Participate on appropriate committees, and network with appropriate academic and artistic organizations.
-Implement goals for IAIA and IAIA Museum’s Strategic Plans 2017.
-Represent IAIA (Museum and College) and participate in local, national and international conferences when funds are available.
-Conduct studio visits and visit other exhibitions, museums, art markets when funds allow.
-Adhere to appropriate standards of conduct and ethics, including but not limited to: confidentiality; integrity and honesty; compliance with directives, including all IAIA policies/procedures; exhibit ability to adapt to changing work environments; cooperate, collaborate and work respectfully with others; participate in pro-active problem solving; regularly attend to job duties and participate in meetings as required; and refrain from engaging in any behavior that is not professional and/or appropriate in a professional work environment.
-Other duties as assigned.

Must have a graduate degree in a related field. Must have at least five (5) years of comparable curatorial experience and publication record. Must have knowledge of issues and concerns in contemporary Native American arts, culture, and education. Experience working within a Native American cultural and higher education context. Experience organizing and facilitating conferences, program development and implementation, publications and/or related activities.

-Must have a demonstrated curation background in the area of contemporary Native Art.
-Must have a demonstrated background in the development of successful contemporary Native Arts exhibits and/or exhibitions, which include program development, exhibit design and installation.
-Must have a demonstrated background in the development of written exhibition didactic/educational materials and catalogue texts.
-Must have strong and effective team leadership skills.
-Work effectively and efficiently in a highly collaborative work environment.
-Must have demonstrated and excellent communication and collaboration skills.
-Experience in social media and internet applications and general office computer applications.
-Must have knowledge and success in grant writing; grant reporting, and budget oversight.
-Ability to effectively lead and supervise staff, which includes but not limited to training, coaching, performance evaluation and discipline.
-Must have strong/proficient skills in written and verbal communications.
-Must possess effective/efficient time management skills and excellent attention to detail.
-Ability to work without supervision, to complete projects independently (as assigned), and to bring projects (or assignments) to conclusion on a timely basis.

-Ability to view, read, and/or interprets a wide range of basic to complex information related to contemporary Native Arts, museum curation and exhibitions, effectively/efficiently.
-Ability to use, with proficiency and without assistance, a wide range of computer applications, in order to complete essential functions.
-Ability to move and/or maneuver items weighing up to 15 lbs.
-Occasional travel for meetings, conferences, and other events using personal vehicle or company vehicle.
-This job description does not list all the duties of this position.
-Supervisors or managers may be assigned other instructions and duties.
-Management has the right to revise this job description at any time, with or without notice.
-The job description is not a contract for employment.
-Performance evaluation will include assessment of job performance and results as described herein.
-Must have a clean driving record, in order to be insurable to use an IAIA vehicle.
-Management has the right to revise this job description at any time, with or without notice.
-The job description is not a contract for employment

Friday, December 12, 2014

Call for Applicants: SAR Museum Studies Internships

The School for Advanced Research, Indian Arts Research Center (IARC) offers two nine-month internships (September 1–May 31) to individuals who are recent college graduates, current graduate students, or junior museum professionals interested in furthering their professional museum experience and enhancing their intellectual capacity for contributing to the expanding field and discourse of museum studies. The internships include a monthly salary, housing, book allowance, travel to one professional conference, and reimbursable travel to and from SAR. One internship is open to an indigenous individual from the U.S. or Canada, and one internship is open to any U.S. or Canadian citizen meeting the application requirements.
The interns will devote their time to working on IARC educational programming, research and writing activities, and collections management and registration. Other requirements include presenting a research paper at the SAR Colloquium Series; attending a professional conference; assisting with IARC seminars, symposia, and collection tours; and working on outreach initiatives to local Native communities. Interns will also participate in interviews, photo sessions, video recordings, and exit interviews to document their experience. During the internships, the Anne Ray Resident Scholar provides mentorship and academic support to the interns.
For more information, download the Anne Ray Internship Application (PDF, 420 KB).The deadline to apply is March 1st. 
More information here

Monday, December 08, 2014

The Elgin Marbles Leave Britain for First Tme

The Telegraph, Keith Perry
December 5, 2014

The British Museum has allowed one of the Elgin Marbles to leave London for the first time after lending a sculpture to a Russian museum.

The headless statue of a Greek river-god will be unveiled in the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg on Friday as part of the celebrations for the institution’s 250th anniversary.

The move comes despite fears of a new Cold War between the Kremlin and the west.

The artwork’s arrival there after a top secret journey, is likely to further inflame one of the world’s longest-running cultural heritage disputes: the Greek government’s claim to the 2,500-year-old sculptures that were removed from the Parthenon in Athens in the19th century by Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.

Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, told The Times: “The politics of both museums have been that the more chilly the politics between governments the more important the relationship between museums.”

More here

Saturday, December 06, 2014

National Preservation Institute Seminars: NAGPRA: Writing Grant Proposals - January & February 2015

The National Preservation Institute, a nonprofit organization founded in 1980, educates those involved in the management, preservation, and stewardship of cultural heritage.

NAGPRA: Preparing for and Writing Grant Proposals
Denver, CO — January 29-30, 2015
Seminar held in cooperation with the National Park Service,
Intermountain Region and the National NAGPRA Program
Deadline to register: January 15, 2015


NAGPRA: Preparing for and Writing Grant Proposals
San Francisco, CA — February 10-11, 2015
Seminar held in cooperation with the
National Park Service, National NAGPRA Program
and The Presidio Trust
Deadline to register: January 27, 2015

Scholarships and travel grants may be available.
The grant application and other registration information is available at

Seminar description. The National NAGPRA Program offers grants to assist museums and Indian tribes with the compliance process under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). The NAGPRA process may include consultation and documentation regarding human remains and cultural items, and their repatriation or disposition. Learn how to assess the needs of a NAGPRA program, identify fundable projects, and write successful Consultation/Documentation and Repatriation grant proposals. An agenda is available at

Instructors. Jan I. Bernstein, managing director, Bernstein & Associates NAGPRA Consultants, works with Indian tribes, Native Hawaiian organizations, museums, and federal agencies to provide training, grant writing, strategic plan development/implementation, consultation facilitation, repatriation claim development, and reburial assistance

Megon Noble, NAGPRA project manager, University of California, Davis, coordinates NAGPRA compliance efforts for the campus; previously the Archaeology NAGPRA coordinator with the Burke Museum, University of Washington, and taught museums collections management

Questions? Please contact us. Thank you.

Jere Gibber
Executive Director
National Preservation Institute
P.O. Box 1702, Alexandria, VA 22313
703.765.0100; 703.768.9350 fax

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Invitation to Meet and Greet at the AAA Conference: Charlotte Townsend-Gault and Jennifer Kramer

Editors Charlotte Townsend-Gault and Jennifer Kramer
and many of the contributors to the award-winning
will be at the booth to greet you and exchange ideas.

Friday, December 5th
University of Washington Press

3:30pm –4:30pm

Light snacks will be served 

Winner, 2014 Melva J. Dwyer Award, Art Libraries Society of North America

This work allows every contributor remarkable latitude, creativity, and indeed questions many long-held assumptions in the field, and posits fresh notions on contemporaneity. It also works to suggest what might be appropriate, respectful, and well-informed means of appreciating, sharing, and studying ceremonial objects, and the Native Northwest cultures which imbued them with life. -- Michelle Paquette, ARLIS/NA Reviews, 2014

In unsettling the conventions that have shaped "the idea of Northwest Coast Native art," this book takes a central place in the lively, often heated, and now global, debates about what constitutes Native art and who should decide. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Indigenous Perspectives on Museums and Cultural Centers Symposium, Syracuse University, New York

“Indigenous Perspectives on Museums and Cultural Centers”
Thursday 4 December 2014
Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York

Noon: Light lunch in 500 Hall of Languages, Kilian Room, Syracuse University.
1 PM: Philip Arnold, Welcome and Introduction to Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center
Ann Drumheller (National Museum of the American Indian): “Celebrating our Anniversaries 25, 15 and 10: NMAI and Community collaborations”
Debora Ryan (Cultural Foundations in Education, SU): "Revisiting the 'French Fort': Sainte Marie de Gannentaha, 1933-1943." 
3 PM: Scott Stevens (Director of Native American Studies, SU): “Beyond the Museum: Cultural Centers in Haudenosaunee Territory.”
Sascha Scott (Art and Music Histories, SU): "Transcultural Objects and Ethical Oversights."

Adjourn about 5 PM

6-9 PM: Dinner/reception at Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center,
6680 Onondaga Lake Parkway, Liverpool NY 13088.

Talk by Rick Hill:(Indigenous Knowledge Centre at Six Nations Polytechnic): "Rethinking the Presentation of Haudenosaunee Culture."

We will focus on how to create an exhibition of Indigenous ideas and philosophies within which anyone can find meaning. Using the message of Skä·noñh (Peace/Wellness) to rethink the encounter between the French Jesuits and the Onondaga Nation, the new Skä·noñh - Great Law of Peace Center, will reposition peace as the guiding principle in the culture practice and treaty making of the Haudenosaunee.