Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Call for Applications: Museums at the Crossroads: Local Knowledge, Global Encounters

A Summer Institute of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures and the School of Global and International Studies, Indiana University

Bloomington, Indiana, USA
May 14-21, 2015

The Indiana University Mathers Museum of World Cultures and School of Global and International Studies invite applications for up to eight Museum Partners who will take part in an innovative international workshop on the future of museums of culture and history. 

Museums at the Crossroads, scheduled for May 14-21, 2015, in the beautiful college town of Bloomington, Indiana, combines keynote addresses, tours, charrettes, and social interactions. We seek applications from museum practitioners and theorists who wish to partner in conversation and creative practice with a group of invited keynote speakers and international museum fellows in a small, informal workshop setting.  Successful applicants will receive eight nights of on-campus lodging and per diem support of $45 for eight days.

Museums at the Crossroads connects theory and practice, bridging institutional, regional, and national museum contexts in order to advance the global conversation around museums and generate a range of practical outcomes for its participants.

Workshop participants will include:

4 international fellows from innovative museums around the globe 
8 museum partners drawn from museums and other institutions in the United States and abroad
12 Indiana University faculty, staff, and graduate students 
4 keynote speakers, each addressing a broader social and cultural theme that we wish to explore in depth in museum contexts. 

Our keynote speakers are: 

Steven Lubar, Brown University (keynote on Today’s Museum:  Innovation, Change, and Challenge)
Michael Brown, School for Advanced Research (keynote on Cultural Crossroads:  World Cultures in Transition)
Stephan Fuchs, University of Virginia (keynote on Disciplinary Crossroads:  The Evolving Sociology of Knowledge)
Haidy Geismar, University College London (keynote on Artifactual Crossroads:  Real Meets Virtual)

Museum Partners will be responsible for their own travel arrangements to and from Bloomington, Indiana, and are expected to participate actively in the full workshop and in associated follow-on activities. Prior to attending, each shall develop an institutional profile that includes an account of challenges your museum faces relative to the three “crossroads” (Cultural, Disciplinary, Artifactual) being explored in the workshop. Partners without a museum affiliation will be asked to prepare a comparable position paper on the themes.

How to Apply

To apply for a position as Museum Partner, please send a resume or curriculum vitae, as well as a cover letter expressing your interest, as a PDF email attachment to: 

Sarah Hatcher, c/o mxrd@indiana.edu

Review of applications will begin November 15, 2014, with applicants receiving notifications by December 15, 2014.  

Further Information

For additional detail on the scope and nature of Museums at the Crossroads, see the workshop précis, which is accessible online at: http://www.mathers.indiana.edu/crossroads.html

Additional information about Indiana University Bloomington can be found at: http://iub.edu/.

Information on the Mathers Museum of World Cultures is available at: http://mathers.indiana.edu/.    

Questions about the workshop can be addressed to the organizers at: mxrd@indiana.edu.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hopi Artifacts Back Home with Arizona Tribe

Arizona Daily Star
September 27, 2014

A Hopi official says 24 ceremonial items purchased last year at a French auction house have been returned to the tribe in northern Arizona.

Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, director of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, says representatives from the Annenberg Foundation brought them Friday afternoon to the village of Walpi on Hopi land.

He says a cultural ceremony was held to welcome back the Kachina friends.

The Los Angeles-based charity also separately returned artifacts to the San Carlos Apache tribe.

The foundation bought the masks last December at a contested auction in Paris.

The tribes argued the artifacts represent their ancestors' spirits and shouldn't be sold.

A bid by the tribes' lawyers to get a French court to block the auction failed after a judge ruled the sale was legal in France.

More here

Monday, October 13, 2014

Museum Anthropology Leaders: Steve Lekson, University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, Boulder, Part 2

Exclusive Museum Anthropology Blog Interview with Steve Lekson, Curator of Archaeology and Professor of Anthropology, Univeristy of Colorado Museum of Natural History, Boulder

This interview is the third installment in a our series, Museum Anthropology Leaders, where blog intern Lillia McEnaney will be interviewing various anthropological museum professionals. The first installment in the series was with Alaka Wali at the Field Museum, with the second being with Sheila Goff, based at History Colorado. 

This interview was conducted over written email correspondence. 

This is Part 2 of 2. 

Generally, what is your favorite thing about archaeology and museum anthropology?
Museum: I enjoy the weird old orphaned collections, trying to figure out what they are and where they came from and how on earth we got 'em.
Archaeology: Reconnaissance survey in new areas.  It's great to find big sites that no one knew about (except the cowboys and Indians).

Have you seen any major changes in our field over the past decade? If so, what are they?
I've gone from straight-up natural science museums, to Native American cultural centers/art museums, to a university museum that's split between high-end science research and cutting-edge museology.  That's a bit of change.  For Anthropology, of course, the inclusion of Native peoples has changed, for the better, completely in my 40 years.  Also, the explosion of digital media -- a huge difference from when I began and where we are today.  

Where do you see the field of museum anthropology going?
I think the pendulum may swing back, a bit, from post-colonial angst to substantive anthropology.  How many times can you say you're sorry?  The trick is to develop anthropology/archaeology questions and answers that are of genuine interest to Native Peoples.  That process will probably be collaborative -- but not necessarily.  I'm recently working on Southwest-Mesoamerica which is largely a straight archeology question.  Almost every Indian I've talked to is really interested in the topic and it's a happy thing we can talk about with mutual enthusiasm.  A lot more cheerful than NAGPRA.

As an author, archaeologist, and curator, how have you ‘changed’ your research to support these different venues of scholarship?
Except for gray literature reports and contract deliverables, I've always tried to write accessibly.  That hasn't always been easy; my academic colleagues and academic presses need a while to get used to it.

Do you have any advice or tips for our younger readers who are perhaps thinking about going into archaeology or museums?

Archaeology: think CRM; think practical field research; think project management and personnel skills.  Museums: learn everything, collections, education, exhibits, administration -- because there are far more small museums out there (where you'll wear several hats) than big museums with separate departments and specialized duties.  And most of those small museums are history museums, so learn historiography and costume/metal/paper/film collections management.  

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Council for Museum Anthropology's Student Travel Awards

The Council for Museum Anthropology is pleased to announce this year’s Student Travel Awards, which support graduate student travel to the annual AAA meeting to present papers and/or posters. Hannah Turner (University of Toronto, Faculty of Information) and Joseph Feldman (University of Florida, cultural anthropology) will receive the 2014 awards. 

Turner’s Ph.D. research in information studies traces how Indigenous material heritage has been catalogued, described and digitized in the Anthropology Department at the National Museum of Natural History. The title of her AAA paper is “The Infrastructure of Ethnographic Data”, to be presented as part of the panel she organized, “Producing Anthropology through Museum Collections: Conversations in Critical Cataloguing.” 

Feldman’s research is based on his ethnographic study of a memorial museum project in Peru. His paper “Not South Africa: Making Transitional Justice Peruvian at a National Museum Project,” is part of the session “Transitional Justice in Space and Time.”

Monday, October 06, 2014

2014 Michael M. Ames Award for Innovative Museum Anthropology

The Council for Museum Anthropology is very pleased to announce that Dr. Leslie Witz and Dr. Noëleen Murray are the recipients of the 2014 Michael M. Ames Award for Innovative Museum Anthroplogy.

Their long-term work with the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum and their book Hostels, Homes, Museum: Memorializing Migrant Labour Pasts in Lwandle, South Africa (2014) exemplify the kind of pioneering work the Award is intended to acknowledge. Their work speaks to many of the issues and concerns of contemporary museum anthropology. We commend them for their long-term engagement with and research on the museum and the Lwandle community. One of the exhibits at the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum is featured in the cover photo of this CMA page.

Please join us when the award is presented on Friday 5 December at the CMA reception during the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association in Washington DC.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Museum Anthropology - New Issue Available Online!

Museum Anthropology 37(2) Fall 2014

Table of Contents:

Embracing the Future of Museum Anthropology (pages 85–86)
Jennifer A. Shannon and Cynthia Chavez Lamar

Museum Anthropology: Conversations in the Field (pages 87–101)
Lillia McEnaney and Jennifer A. Shannon

Polysemic Objects and Partial Translations: Museums and the Interpretation of Indigenous Material Culture in Taiwan (pages 102–117)
Marzia Varutti

Crafting, Community, and Collaboration: Reflections on the Ethnographic Sala Project at the Pukara Lithic Museum, Peru (pages 118–132)
Elizabeth A. Klarich

Digital Heritage, Knowledge Networks, and Source Communities: Understanding Digital Objects in a Melanesian Society (pages 133–143)
Graeme Were

A Century of Circulation: The Return of the Smithsonian Institution's Duplicate Anthropological Specimens (pages 144–159)
Catherine A. Nichols

A Living Exhibition: The Smithsonian and the Transformation of the Universal Museum (pages 160–162)

Kylie Message

A Place That Matters Yet: John Gubbins's Museum Africa in the Postcolonial World (pages 162–164)
Richard Zimmer

Colonial Collecting and Display: Encounters with Material Culture from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (pages 164–166)
Carla M. Sinopoli

No Deal!: Indigenous Arts and the Politics of Possession (pages 166–167)
Haidy Geismar

Museums and Social Activism: Engaged Protest (pages 167–168)
Miranda J. Brady

In the Spirit of the Ancestors: Contemporary Northwest Coast Art at the Burke Museum (pages 168–170)
Anya Montiel

Treasured Possessions: Indigenous Interventions into Cultural and Intellectual Property (pages 170–171)
Tressa Berman

Imagine Africa with the Penn Museum. Exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (pages 172–174)
Diana E. Marsh

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Museum Anthropology Leaders: Steve Lekson, University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, Boulder, Part 1

Exclusive Museum Anthropology Blog Interview with Steve Lekson, Curator of Archaeology and Professor of Anthropology, Univeristy of Colorado Museum of Natural History, Boulder

This interview is the third installment in a our series, Museum Anthropology Leaders, where blog intern Lillia McEnaney will be interviewing various anthropological museum professionals. The first installment in the series was with Alaka Wali at the Field Museum, with the second being with Sheila Goff, based at History Colorado. 

This interview was conducted over written email correspondence. 

This is Part 1 of 2.

When in your education did you decide to pursue museum anthropology? Why?
Probably right after the BA, when I was running big CRM projects in Tennessee.  I didn't want to do that forever, I didn't want to be a professor, and a research curator pretty filled my requirements.

Could you provide the readers of the blog with a brief description of your day to day job at as the Curator of Anthropology at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History?
There are no two days that are the same.  In the last decade, LOTS of NAGPRA, a couple of big exhibits, a few major accessions, planning and grant writing for storage improvements, teaching classes, graduate students, (until last summer) almost every summer a field project, and a lot of university "business" -- endless committee work. 

Which project or exhibition that you worked on are you most proud of?
Hard to say.  Last big exhibit was "History of the Ancient Southwest", up for a year and very successful.  I was happy with it.

When I took this job, after about a half-year I saw four things that needed doing: (1) NAGPRA compliance (we were behind the curve); (2) rehousing our Southwest textiles; (2) rehabbing the Yellow Jacket collections -- our largest archaeological collection, but in a poor state of health; and (4) doing something with our remarkable collection of Southwestern pots which had not been on exhibit for as long as anyone could remember.  Got 'em all done except (2) and we're working on that right now!

What was the most challenging project or aspect of a project that you have worked on?
NAGPRA.  We have, after ten years, repatriated all of the HRs under our control, about 635 individuals.  We consulted with almost 100 tribes.  We had no NAGPRA staff and no budget.  It was a huge job and not a happy one.  I wrote about this in Museum Anthropology 33(2), 2010.

Do you have a favorite object in the University of Colorado collection?
Not one object.  We have a really rich collection.  The Mantle's Cave collection is pretty remarkable.

Part 2 coming soon!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology Partners with the Capitoline Museum of Rome

The CMA is pleased to announce a new cultural heritage initiative, in which the Capitoline Museum of Rome is partnering with US universities to document unstudied antiquities from its vast collection.

The first partner selected for the program is the University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology.  Discussions have been underway for more than a year, and on Monday the project was formally announced by MU's Chancellor, representatives of the Italian Embassy, of the Cultural Heritage Superintendency of the City of Rome, and of Enel Green Power, which is underwriting the project.

The project has the potential to be a game-changer in international cultural heritage.   One of the rationalizations sometimes used for antiquities trafficking is that source countries don't allow access 
to the cultural patrimony under their control, including unstudied antiquities.  This project explicitly addresses that concern.

A collection of 249 black-gloss ceramics from the Republican Period (4th-1st centuries BC) has already been received by the Museum from the Capitoline.  Documentation-including both formal, stylistic and archaeometrics analyses-will be performed, a range of research questions addressed, and the materials returned.  Another group of antiquities will then take their place, forming an ongoing research collaboration encompassing the Museum of Art and Archaeology, the MU Department of Art History and Archaeology, and the Missouri University Research Reactor Archaeometry Laboratory.  The project allows full publication and use of the materials for research, theses and dissertations, and contemplates both exchanges of students and staff as well as exhibitions arising from the collaboration.

Missouri is serving as the pilot project, and it is hoped that similar projects can be developed with other universities in the years to come.