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Ancient and Modern: Exhibiting the Past in the Present

A symposium with Professor Nelson Graburn, Thursday 18 March 2010

This one-day symposium examined the issues involved in displaying and caring for historical and contemporary ethnographic material.  The keynote speaker was Nelson Graburn, Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley and Curator of North American Ethnology at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.

Professor Graburn is one of the foremost scholars of ethnic and tourist art studies and his path breaking book, Ethnic and Tourist Arts: Cultural Expressions from the Fourth World (1976), has changed the way we think about visual objects outside of the West. His presentation is entitled, “Ancient and Modern: Exhibiting the Hearst Museum’s Alaska Commercial Company Collection.”

Other speakers who joined Professor Graburn and who have all been involved in curating and exhibiting ethnographic materials from Africa, Oceania and the Americas:

Henry Drewal, Professor of Art History and African-American Studies, and Adjunct Curator of the Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA):
“Re-membering Arts and Altars: Creating the Exhibit 'Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas”.

Anne-Marie Bouttiaux, Curator and Head of Ethnography Division at the Africa Museum, Tervuren, Belgium:
“Challenging the Dead Hand of the Museum Display: The Case of Contemporary Guro (Ivory Coast) Masquerades”

Steven Hooper, Director of the SRU and Professor of Visual Arts and Karen Jacobs, lecturer in the Arts of the Pacific, SRU, University of East Anglia, Norwich:
“Encounters with Polynesia past and present in Britain and France”

Magali Melandri, Assistant Curator for Oceania, Museé du Quai Branly, Paris:
“Making Together: About the "Kwoma Red - mythical paintings from New Guinea" exhibition, Musée du quai Branly, Paris”

Wayne Modest, Keeper of Anthropology, The Horniman Museum, London:
“We've always been Modern: Museums, Modernity and the Caribbean.”

See the presentation abstracts for fuller details.