Saturday, August 30, 2014

Museum Anthropology Leaders: Sheila Goff, History Colorado, Denver, Part 2

Exclusive Museum Anthropology Blog Interview with Sheila Goff, History Colorado, Denver

This interview is the second installment in a new 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. 

This is Part 2 of 2.

Do you have a favorite object in the History Colorado collection?
I have many favorites. I am drawn to Mesa Verde Black-on-white pottery with its beautifully painted designs. I also like objects that make me think about the person who made or used them. For example, we have a coiled basket from the Mesa Verde region with a broken awl tip embedded in it. I imagine the reaction of the woman who was making the basket when she broke her tool. 

Image courtesy of History Colorado, Stephen H. Hart Library & Research Center

Generally, what is your favorite thing about museum anthropology?
Learning about the past in multiple ways. We study artifacts, using a variety of techniques and approaches. We consult experts who include archaeologists and the descendants of the people who made or used the artifacts.

Do you have any advice or tips for our younger readers who are perhaps thinking about going into archaeology or museums? 
Develop your specialty but at the same time prepare yourself broadly to do the variety of things that need to be done in a museum. In my case, in graduate school, my museum specialty was collections management and my cognate was Southwest archaeology. While my preparation is appropriate for my current job, I am grateful I took classes in exhibit development and that I had a background in education because exhibits and education through outreach are also a part of my job. Also, be sure to do volunteer work or internships to hone your skills, decide better what you want to do, and make contacts in the field. 

Have you seen any major changes in our field over the past decade? If so, what were they? 
I have seen several changes. Many museums of the past developed exhibits with content that curators thought visitors should know. I see a move now toward developing exhibits based on what visitors know and want to know. That information is gleaned through a lot of visitor testing before, during, and after exhibit development. I see museums becoming vibrant places with exhibits that provide content in a variety of ways (images, text, artifacts, video, interactives, programming, websites, etc.). More and more museums are consulting with tribes in the development of exhibits and programs that relate to tribes. NAGPRA also brought tribes into collections and museums have benefited from learning more about their archaeological and ethnographic collections from them. 

Where do you see the field of museum anthropology going? 
I believe it will only get better. I see more and more museums collaborating with the people and/or their descendants associated with museum collections to bring their visitors an accurate interpretation of objects and stories from multiple perspectives. 

As a relatively new curator, what differences have you seen between your coursework in Museum Studies and your work at History Colorado?  

I don’t see a lot of difference. When I reflect upon my overall program in Museum Studies, I think all aspects of it were relevant and prepared me well. In my current position, I have ended up using information from most of the courses I took. More importantly, while in school I was a graduate assistant in the Anthropology Collections Section of the CU Museum of Natural History, where I gained practical experience daily working with collections. My internship and thesis enhanced my knowledge of my cognate area. I was encouraged to join professional organizations and attend annual meetings, which I did and these too helped prepare me for work.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Invitation to the International Conference: Archaeology 2015, Ancient Cultures in the Lands of the Bible, Jerusalem, June 2015

Call for Abstracts:  The scientific committee of the conference invites experts to submit abstracts on the conference topics. The list of topics is presented on the conference web-site: Archaeology Israel

More details on the conference are available on the site.    

For questions contact:

Monday, August 25, 2014

$1.5 Million In Grants Go Out To Help Tribes, Museums, Alaska Native Villages Regain Human Remains And Cultural Objects

The National Parks Traveller
August 23, 2014

The National Park Service has released more than $1.5 million in grants under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act to assist museums, Indian tribes, and Alaska native villages to document and return human remains and cultural objects to their native people.

Grants were awarded both to support the efforts of museums, Indian tribes, Alaska native villages and Native Hawaiian organizations in the documentation of NAGPRA-related objects (consultation/documentation grants), and to pay for the costs associated with the return of the remains and objects to their native people (repatriation grants). This year, 29 grants totaling $1,471,625.00 are going to 24 recipients for consultation/documentation projects, and $95,423.40 is going to eight repatriation projects.

“NAGPRA provides an opportunity to correct the mistreatment of native peoples' ancestral dead by returning the sacred objects and cultural heritage that have been removed from their communities,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “These grants will continue the process by which more than 10,000 Native American human remains and one million sacred objects that have been returned to tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations.

More here

Friday, August 22, 2014

Northwest Indian College Tribal Museum Studies Program

TMSD 201 Introduction to Tribal Museum Studies
Course Instructor: Sara Siestreem, MFA

This course and program is offered ONLINE in a hybrid format. Hybrid courses are supported through regularly scheduled video conferencing (face-to-face) classes with the instructor. Class includes 4 hours of academic study each week. This includes 2 hours of face-to-face class time and approximately 2 hours of additional classwork each week.

Class will meet online Fridays, 12:00—2:00 PM. A headset and microphone are required; a webcam is preferred, but optional for students.

This 4 -credit course will:
-present an overview of museums with an emphasis on tribal museums and cultural centers
-explore the ethical and legal issues related to Native people and the museums that portray their histories
-contrast mainstream museums and community-driven tribal museums
-discuss the skills needed for careers in museums, as Native artists and more

Class dates: Sept. 26; Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; Nov. 7, 14, 21; Dec. 5, 12
Sara Siestreem, MFA is a contemporary Native American Artist, scholar, consultant and educator. Sara is Hanis Coos and an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Tribes from the South Coast of Oregon. She earned her BS (Phi Kappa Phi) at PSU and an MFA (with distinction) from Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, NY.
FALL QTR. 2014 Sept. 22 - Dec. 12

Registration and more information:
To learn more about the Tribal Museum Studies Program, or to register, please contact:
Susan Given-Seymour at, ph. 360.392.4248
Tami Chock at, ph. 360.392.4259

More information HERE

The Northwest Indian College is committed to providing indigenous peoples with opportunities to learn about and develop skills related to tribal history and cultural arts.  Through courses, workshops and trainings people in the Tribal Museum Studies Program will further their knowledge for careers working in tribal museums and cultural centers.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Museum Anthropology Leaders: Sheila Goff, History Colorado, Denver, Part 1

Exclusive Museum Anthropology Blog Interview with Sheila Goff, History Colorado, Denver

This interview is the second installment in a new 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. 

Sheila Goff is the NAGPRA Liaison/Assistant Curator of Culture and Community at History Colorado, where she has been for almost seven years. 

This is Part 1 of 2.

When in your education did you decide to pursue museum anthropology? Why?
I returned to school to train for a second career after teaching ESL for about 20 years. I had become interested in southwest archaeology and decided that working in a museum with anthropology collections rather than pursuing a career with a lot of field work away from home better fit with my lifestyle as a single mother. 

Could you provide the readers of the blog with a brief description of your day to day job as the NAGPRA Liaison/Assistant Curator of Culture and Community at History Colorado?
Every day is different and every day is filled with variety, which is why I enjoy my work. My work is split between coordinating implementation of NAGPRA on behalf of History Colorado and curatorial duties that broadly encompass caring for the archaeology and ethnographic collections, outreach and exhibit development. Here is an example of a recent day. I began by writing a cultural affiliation determination statement for three sets of Native American human remains in preparation for drafting a Notice of Inventory Completion. The consultation process, lasting several months, was complete. Next, I made a series of telephone calls to tribes with whom we are coordinating transfer and reburial of other repatriated remains later this fall in order to work on some of the logistics. I answered an inquiry from another tribe. In the afternoon of this particular day, I did some reading for an exhibit component that will be part of an exhibit to be completed in 2016. I put the finishing touches on a public talk I will give in later in the month on ancestral Pueblo food. I inventoried a box in a historic fort collection that we are in the midst of rehousing. 

Which project or exhibition that you worked on are you most proud of? 
I was recently on the exhibit team for the development of an exhibit entitled “Living West.” It is an environmental history of Colorado. One section is about the Ancestral Pueblo people from the Mesa Verde region. I was responsible for content and artifact and image selection in the section as well as the tribal consultation associated with exhibit development. The exhibit has been well received and recently won an AASLH Leadership in History Award of Merit. I strove to weave the Native voice throughout all components in the section and I was particularly happy when our tribal consultants saw and liked the final result.

What was the most challenging project or aspect of a project that you have worked on?

Sometimes it is difficult to find appropriate land for reburial of remains repatriated under NAGPRA. In 2012, I coordinated the transfer and reburial of 337 sets of remains and 439 associated funerary objects. The project involved three tribes from two states, our museum, and a federal agency. The project was challenging not only because of the number of people involved and the large number of remains and funerary objects but also because it had taken almost 8 years of effort to receive permission to rebury where the tribes wanted their ancestors laid to rest.   

Part 2 coming soon.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Position Announcement: Archaeological Collections Manager, Wesleyan Univeristy

General Duties: 
-Under the general direction of the Provost and the supervision of the Dean of Social Sciences, the Archaeological Collections Manager is responsible for collections management and for working with faculty and students to facilitate their use of the collections. The incumbent serves as the University’s Repatriation Coordinator, maintaining Wesleyan’s compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).
-Research and document collection objects to determine provenance and supplementary context.
-Develop, manage, and maintain an electronic collections database including digital images.  Maintain and update collections website. 
-Supervise all access to collections storage area in accordance with the Wesleyan --University Archaeology and Anthropology Collection (WUAAC) Management Policy, tracking objects and maintaining activity logs, register and accession ledgers.
-Respond to outside inquiries about the collections and provide access and assistance to outside scholars.
-Support course laboratory sessions and assist faculty in the preparation and development of labs for new courses.
-Give tours of collections and train users as needed in the proper handling of collections and use of equipment.
-Monitor condition of objects.  Coordinate conservation efforts.
-Serve as repatriation coordinator implementing NAGPRA regulations, including the development and maintenance of inventories, summaries, notices and supporting documentation.  
-Develop and maintain relationships with Tribal representatives regarding NAGPRA sensitive collections, conduct formal consultations.
-Maintain culturally appropriate guidelines for handling and curation of human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony.  Facilitate Tribal visits and transfers of human remains and objects. 
-Manage communications with National NAGPRA Office and other institutions.

-Perform similar duties as necessary.

Minimum Qualifications 
Bachelor’s degree, preferably in Anthropology, Archaeology, Classical Studies, Museum Studies or related field. Excellent computer and database management skills. High degree of integrity. Must be able to meet the physical demands of the position on a continual basis with or without reasonable accommodations including climbing ladders, lifting heavy objects, pushing and pulling heavily loaded carts. Ability and willingness to work occasional evenings and weekends, as needed.

Preferred Qualifications
Master’s degree in Anthropology, Archaeology, Classical Studies, Museum Studies or related field.  Background in North American Native history/archaeology. Demonstrated experience in archaeological collections management. Experience with digital photography.  Experience with formal consultation and implementation of NAGPRA, including inventory of human remains and artifact collections, cataloging, collections documentation, and determinations of cultural affiliations.  Familiarity with EmbARK Collections Manager software. 

Apply online here

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Orozco Murals, Native American Art Digitalized at Dartmouth College

Jessica Avitabile, The Dartmouth
July 28, 2014

The completion of the Dartmouth Digital Orozco website and the digitalization of the Hood Museum’s collection of Native American art are [Dartmouth] College’s latest steps to digitize artwork. The website, which went online in late June, makes the Orozco murals in Baker Library available to the public, along with relevant information and other pictures, while the digitalization will make more than 4,000 pieces of Native American work accessible online following a grant earlier this year.

The museum received the $150,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services last September to digitize its Native American art collection.

Thus far, the Hood has digitally photographed more than 2,000 objects in 2,500 images, the Hood’s senior curator Katherine Hart said. The Hood is sorting through material mainly by geographic region, which loosely sorts the works by different cultures. After the Hood goes through the pieces from each region, an expert with knowledge of the specific region consults with Hood staff and offers their expertise.

More here