Monday, August 24, 2015

How, when and why ‘primitive art’ was added to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: USC professor Nancy Lutkehaus explores the cultural, social and political significance of the decision

USC News, Susan Bell
August 24, 2015

Walking into the dramatic first-floor gallery of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, visitors are confronted with the towering bis poles collected by Michael Rockefeller on his final expedition to New Guinea. Rockefeller disappeared on that trip in 1961 at the age of 23, reported drowned at sea under mysterious circumstances that have led to speculation that he may have been eaten by cannibals.

The intricately carved poles are on display in the wing of the Met that bears his name. The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing houses a collection of non-Western art obtained by Rockefeller’s father, New York governor, multimillionaire and subsequent Vice President Nelson Rockefeller.

The history of the Met’s pioneering 1969 decision to incorporate “primitive art” into its fine art collection is the subject of an upcoming book by Nancy Lutkehaus, professor of anthropology and political science at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Titled The Met Goes Primitive: Postwar America, Cultural Politics, and the Creation of the Rockefeller Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lutkehaus’ project argues that this decision illuminates the relationship between art and post-World War II, postcolonial politics, 20th-century American cosmopolitanism and a changing ideology of a more racially diverse national identity.

“When an encyclopedic museum like the Met finally decides to incorporate non-Western art, it is making a statement saying this art is as important as Greek statues and the Impressionists,” Lutkehaus said. “It’s broadening its canon in terms of what is considered to be art, and that has a cultural impact in terms of a statement about a broader recognition, a more multicultural, more racially and ethnically diverse national identity.”

The Met’s decision to display these artifacts as fine art was a controversial one, she said.

“It was also a major economic decision because the trustees had to commit to a new wing and funds for curators to continue to collect.

“The Met didn’t agree to acquire this material until 1969, which was quite late given that Picasso and artists in Europe had been fascinated with non-Western art for years. My project talks about what that shift meant and why it happened at this particular period of time.”

Lutkehaus links this shift to changing politics after World War II, GIs returning from the Pacific, the beginning of the civil rights movement, and various events in Harlem and other parts of the United States.

She is using the papers of Nelson Rockefeller and other key individuals, museum archives and interviews to analyze the social, political and cultural context in which the Met’s board of trustees made its decision.


More here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Position Announcement: Assistant Registrar, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution

Job Title: Assistant Registrar
Agency: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of the American Indian

Open Period: Thursday, August 6, 2015 to Thursday, August 27, 2015
Position Information: Full-Time, Permanent - Federal
Location: Suitland, MD

Security Clearance: Background Investigation
Travel: Not Required

Job Summary: This position is located in the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), Smithsonian Institution. The employee performs such tasks as helping to uphold accountability for the museum’s permanent collections which include objects, paper archives, photographic archives, and media archives through the establishment and maintenance of accession records and inventory processes, as well as plan and execute outgoing loans and other activities, as needed.

Duties:
-Contributes substantially to an extremely active loan program (for NMAI exhibits) by doing such tasks as helping update NMAI’s loan policies, reviewing and providing recommendations to the Supervisory Registrar for loans and loan renewals at NMAI’s Curatorial Council meetings, and negotiating with borrowers and lenders.
-Helps with the acquisition of gifts and donations to the collection, de-accessions, and disposals by doing such tasks as assisting with maintaining official records of transactions and supporting material according to NMAI’s standards and for the safeguarding and digitization of collections files and other relevant documentation. Generates legal contracts, assures legal forms are completed properly (i.e., signed by authorized individuals), and records preserved in official files.
-Catalogs collections lots and (as needed) individual items using NMAI’s Collections Information -System to insure accurate and appropriate documentation while following standards set by the Collections Research and Documentation Office. Coordinates and documents pest management actions.
-Assists with accountability for the inventory and movement of the collections and with an annual cyclical inventory of randomly selected items to verify the location and documentation of an appropriate subset of NMAI’s collections. Implements Collections Information System technology and researches other technology solutions to improve workflow, processes, and successfully digitize collections information.
-Seeks out and recommend solutions to improve the workflow procedures and processes, monitors assigned budgets and helps prepare, maintain, and review budgets, spending plans, and related documents; manages the office when the Supervisory Registrar is absent (and when delegated), and provides statistics, updates, and reports for the Supervisory Registrar, leadership, and trustees, as required. Undertakes COTR procurement duties.

Experience: You qualify for this position if you possess one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-11 level in the Federal Service or comparable pay band system. For this position Specialized experience is defined as one year of specialized experience (Federal or other) at the GS-11 level that is close or similar to the work of this job. The experience includes activities such as managing loans, accessions, budgets, inventory, crating and shipping arrangements, condition reporting, and exhibitions.

Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.

Part-time and/or unpaid experience related to this position will be considered to determine the total number of years and months of experience. Be sure to note the number of paid or unpaid hours worked each week.

Important Note: Your resume and supporting documentation will be compared to your responses to the occupational questionnaire or other assessment tool for consistency. If a determination is made that you have rated yourself higher than is supported by your resume, you will be assigned a rating commensurate to your described experience. Your resume should provide sufficient information regarding how your education and experience relate to this position, including the major duties and qualifications criteria listed.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Position Announcement: Program Specalist (Collections), Cultural Resources Center, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution

Job Title: Program Specialist (Collections)
Agency: Smithsonian Institution

Open Period: Monday, August 3, 2015 to Monday, August 17, 2015

Position Information: Full-Time, Permanent - Federal
Location: Suitland, MD View Map 
Travel: Not required

More than one selection may be made from this announcement. 

Security Clearance: Background Investigation

Job Summary: This position is located in the Cultural Resources Center (CRC), National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), Smithsonian Institution. The employee interacts with the public to answer research inquiries and coordinate and work with visitors to NMAI’s collections.

Duties: 
-Answers research requests or general inquiries by using working knowledge of Native cultures, art forms, and material from a wide variety of geographic and cultural regions (contemporary, archaeological and ethnographic), displaying an awareness and understanding of the potential spiritual and sensitive nature of some items or materials in Native collections, basic archaeological terminology, history and materials, and collections-based anthropological research methods.
-Researches Native cultures and their material culture and makes connections between different elements to determine best avenues for securing information for the researcher by using the museum’s database (EMu) and outside resources (i.e. web searches, museum and outside publications, archaeological reports, and tribal websites).
-Participates in collections care duties (as needed) by following all requirements for the proper tracking, moving, and storage of collections objects (using a variety of equipment including forklifts, manual and electronic pallet jacks, sculpture lifts, scissor lifts, man lifts, carts, and ladders).
-Communicates with potential visitors to determine their interests, performs thorough EMu searches for objects relevant to visitors’ interests, produces and disseminates a variety of EMu reports (if necessary), compiles appropriate object lists for visits (if needed), and prepares for or handles visits directly (typical visitors include researchers, Native community members and representatives, and the general public).

Qualifications:
Experience: You qualify for this position if you possess one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-7 level in the Federal Service or comparable pay band system. For this position Specialized experience is defined as working in either a Native American (or other indigenous culture of the Western Hemisphere) museum, cultural, or historical organization or a museum, cultural, or historical organization with Native American (or other indigenous culture of the Western Hemisphere) collections in order to coordinate visitor services with an emphasis on Native American visitors, collections management, or research work that is related to Native art, culture or history.

Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.
Part-time and/or unpaid experience related to this position will be considered to determine the total number of years and months of experience. Be sure to note the number of paid or unpaid hours worked each week.

Education:
Master's or equivalent graduate degree
or
2 full years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to such a degree
or
LL.B. or J.D., if related
-Such education must demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to do the work.
-One year of full-time graduate education is considered to be the number of credit hours that the school attended has determined to represent 1 year of full-time study. If that information cannot be obtained from the school, 18 semester hours should be considered as satisfying the 1 year of full-time study requirement.
-Part-time graduate education is creditable in accordance with its relationship to a year of full-time study at the school attended.
Or a Combination: Education and experience may be combined to meet the basic qualifications. For a full explanation of this option please see the Qualification Standards. Special Instructions for Foreign Education: If you are qualifying by education and/or you have education completed in a foreign college/university described above, it is your responsibility to provide transcripts and proof of U.S. accreditation for foreign study. For instructions on where to fax these documents, see the "Required Documents" section of this announcement.

Qualification requirements must be met within 30 days of the job announcement closing date.

Evaluation:
-Your application will be evaluated first for the basic qualifications described above. The applications that meet the basic qualifications will be evaluated further against the following criteria:
-Knowledge of Native American culture, art, history and Native collections, gained through work experience.
-Ability to perform research about Native art, culture, and history in the western hemisphere from the Arctic to South America by using a variety of resources.
-Knowledge of museum best practices to the care, handling, moving, housing, tracking, and storage of a museum collection of Native American ethnographic, archaeological, and contemporary art material.
-Ability to deal effectively with a variety of individuals and to function as the department’s point person regarding visits and tours by effectively communicating the department’s policies and procedures, adapting to shifting staff and visitors’ priorities and schedules, and successfully coordinating visits and tours.

Applicants who meet or exceed minimum qualifications will be assigned to one of three category groups based on job-related criteria: Best Category - Meets the minimum qualification requirements and excels in most of the job related competencies above. Better Category - Meets the minimum qualification requirements and satisfies most of the job related competencies above. Good Category - Meets the minimum qualification requirements, but does not satisfy most of the job related competencies above to a substantive degree. This category rating process does not add veterans' preference points or apply the "rule of three", but protects the rights of veterans by placing them ahead of non-preference eligibles within each category. A selecting official may make selections from the highest quality category (Best Category) provided no preference eligible in that category is passed over to select a non-preference eligible in that category unless the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 3317(b) or 3318(b) are satisfied. Preference eligibles who meet minimum qualification requirements and who have a compensable service-connected disability of at least 10 percent must be listed in the highest quality category, except when the position being filled is scientific or professional at the GS-9 grade level or higher. Applicants who have not submitted a resume in the USAjobs system and/or have not answered all of the vacancy questions will not be considered for this position.

Important Note:
Your resume and supporting documentation will be compared to your responses to the occupational questionnaire or other assessment tool for consistency. If a determination is made that you have rated yourself higher than is supported by your resume, you will be assigned a rating commensurate to your described experience. Your resume should provide sufficient information regarding how your education and experience relate to this position, including the major duties and qualifications criteria listed.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Portland Art Museum Will Return Medicine Bundles to Crow Tribe

Indian Country Today Media Network
August 6, 2015
Eighteen Crow medicine bundles will soon be on their way from Portland, Oregon, back to the Crow people in Montana.
According to The Oregonian, a collector named Elizabeth Cole Butler acquired the bundles from dealers of Native antiquities, beginning in 1970 and continuing through 1990. Butler donated all of them to the Portland Art Museum.
In Crow culture, a medicine bundle is a container made of animal skin that may contain any number of small sacred items -- for example beads, shells, seeds, wood, feathers and arrowheads. "They're profoundly sacred objects, each unique to an individual," Donald Urquhart, the Portland Art Museum's director of collections and exhibitions, toldThe Oregonian.  He added that the contents "could be related to burial, ceremony and hunting."
The personal nature of Crow medicine bundles provides an interesting twist in this particular repatriation story: The museum had long offered to return them to the Tribe. The medicine bundles were on a list of objects that the museum furnished the Tribe as dictated by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), but in 1993 John Pretty-on-Top, the Crow representative, said that the items "would not be of interest to the tribe as a whole since bundles are exclusively owned by individuals," according to Department of Interior records.
Read more here.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Museum Anthropology Leaders: Boris Wastiau, Director, Musee d'ethnographie de Geneve and Tenured Professor, Department of the History of Religions, University of Geneva, Part 3 of 3

Exclusive Museum Anthropology Blog Interview with Dr. Boris Wastiau, Director, Musee d'ethnographie de Geneve and Tenured Professor, Department of the History of Religions, University of Geneva.

This interview is the seventh installment in our series, Museum Anthropology Leaders, where blog intern Lillia McEnaney interviews various anthropological museum professionals.

This interview was conducted over written email correspondence. 


This is Part 3 of 3




9. More broadly, have you seen any major changes in our field of museum anthropology over the past decade? If so, what are they? 
I might suggest breaking this down into questions for another interview! There is so much to say, and it is difficult to make general statements as the situation differs a lot from a country to another. I would say that in Europe the situation is quite contrasted, sometimes critical, sometimes promising. 

10. Where do you see the field of museum anthropology going, long term? What role do you see the Musee d’ethnographie playing in the field? 
The role of the MEG will probably be modest on account of its size and where it is located! What I would like to say in answer to this question is that if museums are to reflect the profile of the society in which they function to better serve it, as is now a credo of museum policy, anthropology museums, museums of world cultures or of non-Western art should someday be given far more importance than today. Or otherwise non-Western arts and other collections should “colonise”, so to speak, all the museums traditionally focused on pre-WWII notions of “Western culture”, society and history (in Europe, most museums of art and history). “Ethnographic” or world cultures museums should also proliferate outside the former colonial metropolises and few academic centres where they historically were founded. Also, in most case, our collections must be rejuvenated with new acquisitions and contemporary material.

11. Do you have any advice or tips for our younger readers who are thinking about going into anthropology or museum work? 
Do fieldwork and, if possible, collect in the field. Always try to know as much as you can about all collections around you, do not focus for years on a limited corpus. If you get a museum job, always volunteer to take more responsibilities, in all fields of museum practice. Try to cast an anthropological gaze at all the relationships between people and objects, all the way from the field to the exhibition. 

Museum jobs are great jobs, because museum people tend to be nicer! Anthropology museums are the best places; they are the only ones with collections that open up on such a multitude of countries, cultures, periods, fields of human activity… 

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Position Announcement: Curatorial Assistant, Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands, Baltimore Museum of Art

The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) seeks a Curatorial Assistant for the Department of the Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. The Curatorial Assistant will join the curators for African and Asian art in a department holding an important collection of over 6,000 objects and a strong record of scholarship and major art exhibitions, particularly for the arts of Africa. The Curatorial Assistant is responsible for both the administrative functions of the department and research assistance for the collection and exhibition projects.

Responsibilities include but are not limited to:
*Assisting with maintenance of the permanent collection; coordinating the
accessions process; cataloguing objects in collections management database (The Museum System).
*Coordinating the activities of the Friends of the Arts of Africa, the
Pacific, and the Americas group.
*Coordinating loans and exhibitions; conducting research; and handling art
objects.
*Administrative duties, such as planning travel, maintaining the
department calendar, and preparing expense reports.
*Managing work-study students, interns, and/or volunteers.
This full-time, non-exempt position reports to the Associate Curator for African Art, and will also assist the Associate Curator for Asian Art, occasionally working with consulting curators and visiting scholars.

Qualifications
Applicants must have a bachelor's degree and demonstrated study of non-European art and cultures. Familiarity with the arts of the Ancient Americas, Native America or Pacific Islands preferred.  Some museum or gallery experience preferred through work or internship positions. We are looking for candidates who demonstrate strong abilities as follows:
*Excellent interpersonal and written communication skills
*Outstanding research skills
*Ability to work independently, as well as collaboratively with internal
departments and external parties
*Skilled in multi-tasking, organization, project mana3gement,
prioritization, and time management
*Possesses sound judgment and diplomacy
*Excellent computer skills (Microsoft Office Suite, object management
database, and basic photo editing required)

Benefits
The BMA is an equal opportunity employer and a drug-free workplace. We offer a competitive salary and a generous benefits package. For this exempt position we offer medical, dental, vision, prescription, 403b deferred compensation retirement plan, long term disability, flexible spending account, flexible and condensed scheduling, museum shop, program and exhibition, and restaurant discounts, reduced fee gym membership and a continuing education discount. We also offer 4 weeks of earned vacation, 8 holidays, 3 personal days, 2 floating holidays, and 12 sick days each fiscal year.

Apply
Please send cover letter, resume, and salary requirements via e-mail to HR@artbma.org with "Curatorial Assistant for the Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands (AAAPI) and type your first and last name" in the subject line.

Incomplete application materials will not be considered.

No phone calls please.


Friday, August 07, 2015

Museum Anthropology Leaders: Boris Wastiau, Director, Musee d'ethnographie de Geneve and Tenured Professor, Department of the History of Religions, University of Geneva, Part 2 of 3

Exclusive Museum Anthropology Blog Interview with Dr. Boris Wastiau, Director, Musee d'ethnographie de Geneve and Tenured Professor, Department of the History of Religions, University of Geneva.

This interview is the seventh installment in our series, Museum Anthropology Leaders, where blog intern Lillia McEnaney interviews various anthropological museum professionals.

This interview was conducted over written email correspondence. 

This is Part 2 of 3



5. Let’s change the focus to your current appointment. You were appointed the Director of the Musee d’ethnographie in 2009, with the specific mission of rebuilding and restructuring the institution. How did you go about doing this? 
In 2009 I engaged the museum staff to participate in the conception of a masterplan. Budgets were voted, but in 2010 we faced a referendum pro or against the museum. We won with a large majority of the people’s votes in September, closed the museum and moved away. By then many had been so incredulous that not much had been done in terms of exhibition concepts and planning. Also, many key employees had not yet been hired! One can say we did it all in just four years.
Restructuring the institution is eventually a very slow process. Changing an organigram (organisational chart) does not change people’s skills, or their behaviour. You have to bring in a concept of slow but permanent, guided change; co-create and nurture values with your staff, your public and all the partners in your networks. Networks and collaborations are so important! For a public institution, they are a vital necessity for growing and reaching out to ever larger circles. If you want to make something big in Geneva, you must make sure that everyone can agree, if not support you. Consensus is a must. 

Why was this a project you were interested in taking on? If you love art, cultures, interacting with people and if you love building things, then what better job could you wish to have? 
6. What goals do you have for the museum, post-reconstruction?
We are currently building new storage for the collections. Before we remove them, in 2018, I want to spend a couple of years on an in-depth assessment of the collections. That is a big job! 
I also am looking to raise the level of academic activity at the museum. Last year we renewed a convention with the University of Geneva on research and teaching. Curators should teach more and students should come more often to the museum. Recently, new teaching opportunities have just opened up. Several academic conferences are being lined up for 2015-2016, in collaboration with universities and scholarly societies.  

7. Could you provide the readers of the blog with a brief description of your day to day job - post-reopening - as the Director of the Musee d’ethnographie de Geneve?
The only thing that changed after the opening is that we have all been relieved from the weight of the big deadline we had all been obsessed with for years. Everyone is happy to be able to take the extra time required to do things very well. But there certainly is not less work. 
On a daily basis, my main job is to make sure that everyone has a clear picture of his or her duty, that they are properly informed and that they have everything they need to work. 

8. Do you have a favourite object in the collections of the museum? 

I have a few favourite objects in each of the five continents collections! The more you know your collections, the more you find treasures. Mine tend to be those important objects that were mislabelled sometimes for one hundred years, completely ignored because misplaced in the wrong collection, and that turn out to be historically significant objects (see history section of our permanent collection at http://www.meg.ch). I found out for instance that one of our False Face Society masks had been registered in 1825, making it one of the oldest known in a collection!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Position Announcement: NAGPRA Research Fellow, Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, University of Oklahoma

Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, University of Oklahoma
Job Title: NAGPRA Research Fellow
Department: Archaeology Department, SNOMNH
Supervisor: Collections Manager
Coordinates with: Curator of Archaeology
Salary: $40,000/year + health insurance

Position Description: The Sam Noble Museum seeks an experienced biological anthropologist or bioarchaeologist to work with human remains from archaeological sites in Oklahoma to assist in the implementation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. At a minimum, this will include skeletal analyses to determination related to the minimum number of individuals, age, and sex. The NAGPRA Research Fellow will also be involved in the specialized repackaging of human remains for repatriation. The Fellow will also work with museum documentation and other sources to identify affiliated funerary objects associated with human remains. The NAGPRA Research Fellow must demonstrate a sensitivity to and respect for diverse systems of belief while engaging in consultation with tribal representatives, archaeologists, and officials from local, state, and federal agencies. The NAGPRA Research Fellow will work under the supervision of the Archaeology Department’s Collection Manager and Curator of Archaeology. This is a full-time temporary 12-month position, but with the potential for renewal—pending the availability of external grant funding.

Major Tasks and Responsibilities:
• Osteological analysis of fragmentary human remains from archaeological sites
• Database management and data entry
• Repackaging of human remains
• Overseeing student interns and volunteers

Required Qualifications:
• Minimum of MA degree in Anthropology (Biological Anthropology, Bioarchaeology,
Archaeology) or an equivalent combination of education and experience
• Minimum of 2 years of experience in human osteological analysis and research,
including a knowledge of up-to-date practices in methods, techniques, and theory
• Experience in NAGPRA implementation and work on grant-funded projects
• Demonstrated ability to work with computers, especially working with databases and
spreadsheets
• Willingness to work effectively and respectfully with tribal representatives and
organizations
• Basic knowledge of NAGPRA legislation and a willingness to deepen this understanding
• Strong communication (verbal and written) and organization skills
• Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively

Desired Qualifications:
• PhD in Biological Anthropology or Bioarchaeology
• Publications in Biological Anthropology, Bioarchaeology, or related field
• Demonstrated experience in project management
• Experience in NAGPRA consultation
• Working knowledge of archaeology of the Plains and Southeast regions of the US

Working Conditions: position requires working primarily indoors, moving boxes (up to 50 lbs), ability to climb ladder, and will need to sit and stand for extended periods of time.

How to Apply: applicants must submit digital files including cover letter, CV, and list of three professional references at the OU jobs website (jobs.ou.edu). The job requisition number is 23089. See job post here.

Application Review: will begin on September 1st and will continue until the position is filled. The appointment can begin as soon as mid-September, with a later starting date negotiable based on candidate availability.