Museology

Current discourse on Indigenous engagement in museum studies is often dominated by curatorial and academic perspectives, in which community voice, viewpoints, and reflections on their collaborations can be under-represented. This book provides a unique look at Indigenous perspectives on museum community engagement and the process of self-representation, specifically how the First Nations Elders of the Blackfoot Confederacy have worked with museums and heritage sites in Alberta, Canada, to represent their own culture and history. Situated in a post-colonial context, the case-study sites are places of contention, a politicized environment that highlights commonly hidden issues and naturalized inequalities built into current approaches to community engagement. Data from participant observation, archives, and in-depth interviewing with participants brings Blackfoot community voice into the text and provides an alternative understanding of self and cross-cultural representation.

Focusing on the experiences of museum professionals and Blackfoot Elders who have worked with a number of museums and heritage sites, Indigenous Voices in Cultural Institutions unpicks the power and politics of engagement on a micro level and how it can be applied more broadly, by exposing the limits and challenges of cross-cultural engagement and community self-representation. The result is a volume that provides readers with an in-depth understanding of the nuances of self-representation and decolonization.

This is an innovative interdisciplinary book about objects and people within museums and galleries. It addresses fundamental issues of human sensory, emotional and aesthetic experience of objects. The chapters explore ways and contexts in which things and people mutually interact, and raise questions about how objects carry meaning and feeling, the distinctions between objects and persons, particular qualities of the museum as context for person-object engagements, and the active and embodied role of the museum visitor.

Museum Materialities is divided into three sections – Objects, Engagements and Interpretations – and includes a foreword by Susan Pearce and an afterword by Howard Morphy. It examines materiality and other perceptual and ontological qualities of objects themselves; embodied sensory and cognitive engagements – both personal and across a wider audience spread – with particular objects or object types in a museum or gallery setting; notions of aesthetics, affect and wellbeing in museum contexts; and creative and innovative artistic and museum practices that seek to illuminate or critique museum objects and interpretations.

Phenomenological and other approaches to embodied experience in an emphatically material world are current in a number of academic areas, most particularly strands of material culture studies within anthropology and cognate disciplines. Thus far, however, there has been no concerted application of this kind of approach to museum collections and interactions with them by museum visitors, curators, artists and researchers. Bringing together essays by scholars and practitioners from a wide disciplinary and international base, Museum Materialities seeks to make just such a contribution. In so doing it makes a valuable and original addition to the literature of both material culture studies and museum studies.

Stop curating! And think what curating is all about. This book starts from this simple premise: thinking the activity of curating. To do that, it distinguishes between 'curating' and 'the curatorial'. If 'curating' is a gamut of professional practices for setting up exhibitions, then 'the curatorial' explores what takes place on the stage set up, both intentionally and unintentionally, by the curator. It therefore refers not to the staging of an event, but to the event of knowledge itself.

In order to start thinking about curating, this book takes a new approach to the topic. Instead of relying on conventional art historical narratives (for example, identifying the moments when artistic and curatorial practices merged or when the global curator-author was first identified), this book puts forward a multiplicity of perspectives that go from the anecdotal to the theoretical and from the personal to the philosophical. These perspectives allow for a fresh reflection on curating, one in which, suddenly, curating becomes an activity that implicates us all (artists, curators, and viewers), not just as passive recipients, but as active members. As such, the Curatorial is a book without compromise: it asks us to think again, fight against sweeping art historical generalizations, the sedimentation of ideas and the draw of the sound bite. Curating will not stop, but at least with this book it can begin to allow itself to be challenged by some of the most complex and ethics-driven thought of our times.
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