Monday, 22 August 2016

Two talks on the Future of Ethnographic Museums, Past and Present

Image: "Totem Pole from Masset Village, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia (Pitt Rivers Museum)" Frontispiece to Man volume 2 (1902) to accompany E.B. Tylor's paper "Note on the Haida Totem-Post Lately Erected in the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford" Man 2: 1-3

I'm speaking at two conferences on the theme of ethnographic museums in late September/early October. First, on 29-30 September I'll be in Paris among a range of international speakers at the colloquium UN MUSÉE À IMAGINER: Le musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac 10 ans après. Un musée à imaginer, reflecting on the first decade of Paris' ethnographic museum the musée du quai Branly.

The organisers' overview of the meeting is as follows:
What was the project of the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac? How was it implemented, and how has it evolved? How does it affect museum conceptions in other parts of the world, and how has it changed conservation and research practices? 
This international conference looks back at the museum’s history since its opening, focusing especially on the issues it has faced during this period. It will examine the museum’s exhibition policy, the place of research and its connection with the museum’s collections, the methods and stakes of its relationship with audiences, and finally, the challenges presented by the evolution of relationships between museum institutions and the communities from which the objects originate. 
The conference is not intended as an overview of the museum’s legacy, and even less as a pretext for self-celebration. Instead, it looks at the museum’s place in a landscape of art and anthropology museums which has undergone deep transformation in the last fifteen years. 
The contributors will attempt to identify the role played by the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac as an object of reflection and criticism for institutions around it. Without claiming to cover everything, this conference will bring together major witnesses of the museum’s genesis and construction, people who work in its different sectors, researchers and observers from here and further afield, and representatives of the audiences and communities concerned by the museum and its collections. 
Rather than a string of speeches, the conference sessions will take the form of either round tables or discussions between two or three speakers, reacting to questions from informed facilitators and the audience. Its ultimate aim is to consider and imagine the museum of tomorrow.
The speakers in Paris include Anita Herle, Nick Thomas, Philippe Descola, Wayne Modest, Maurice Godelier, Gaye Sculthorpe, Hamady Bocoum, Boris Wastiau, and James Clifford, as well as a wide range of leading scholars and curators from the Quai Branly itself. The full programme for the meeting is online here.

Then on Thursday 6 October I'm speaking in London at the Science Museum at the 2016 Museum Ideas Conference, in a programme that also includes JiaJia Fei (Jewish Museum, NYC); Ken Arnold, (Medical Museion, Copenhagen); Onur Karaoglu (Museum of Innocence, Istanbul); Shyam Oberoi (Dallas Museum of Art); and Gravity Goldberg (Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco). 

The conference is on the theme of The Future of Museums in the Era of Participatory Culture, and I'll be speaking about some aspects of the paper that was just re-published in Museums ID magazine: Pitt Rivers AD 2065: The Future of Museums, Past and Present

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