AAM on the Midterm Elections

Advocacy Alert - November 12, 2018
What the Midterm Elections Mean for Museums

American Alliance of Museums

Were you as gripped by the midterm elections as we have been? Following the Nov. 6 elections, the Alliance is pleased to share this brief analysis of historic highlights and possible impacts for museums.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats won a majority--33 seats so far, with 11 races yet to be called (23 seats were required to flip for control of the House). Republicans held onto control of the U.S. Senate with 51 seats so far and three races yet to be decided--Mississippi (run-off Nov. 27), Florida (recount) and Arizona. 

There was historic voter turnout and historic diversity. It was the first midterm election in U.S. history to exceed 100 million votes and the highest turnout rate since the 1974 Watergate-era midterms. Also, young people aged 18 to 29 had the highest turnout rate for a midterm election in at least 25 years. In addition to voters sending a record number of more than 100 women to Congress, other firsts included the first two Native American women, the first two Muslim women and the youngest woman (age 29) elected to Congress. In addition, the first black woman from Massachusetts was elected to Congress and the first Latinas were elected to Congress in Texas.

"Congress will see one of the largest and most diverse group of new members in decades, which presents a great opportunity for museums of all types and sizes in 2019," said Alliance President and CEO Laura Lott. "Building on our success of the past year, we will quickly engage our newly-elected representatives and share the value of museums and what the Alliance can quickly deliver to their districts. Fortunately, Museums Advocacy Day (Feb. 25-26) comes just weeks after the start of the new Congress, serving as a catalyst for our outreach and advocacy for all museums."

116th Congress Convenes January 3 

The conventional outlook for the next two years is political gridlock with few major legislative accomplishments. On the other hand, the regular work of Congress will continue and museums need to be alert to potential opportunities. While there are many unknowns and we are still processing the impact of the elections, following are a few highlights:

House Agenda: House Democrats are expected to debut in the majority with plans to vote on bills to reform government, infrastructure investment and the rising costs of prescription drugs, and testing the president's willingness to work together on shared policy goals. Other likely agenda items are included in the House Democrats' suite of policy proposals, "A Better Deal." With little intention of taking up most House-passed legislation, Senate Republicans are expected to focus on confirming as many administration and judicial nominations as possible.

Museum, Humanities and Arts Funding: Without a deal in Congress to raise statutory budget caps, FY 2020 will be a very tough budget environment. The federal debt and budget deficit likely will reemerge as a top issues. Even so, with a record 154 House Democrats who signed onto the FY 2019 Office of Museum Services (OMS) funding letter last year, museums are in a strong position to advance their funding priorities.

Charitable Giving and Tax Policy: Incoming House Ways & Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) has indicated his support for incentivizing charitable giving, including possibly enacting a universal charitable deduction, and fixing the UBIT "siloing" and transportation fringe benefits tax. The Senate is receptive to these issues, but advancing them will require strong and unified advocacy by the charitable sector, including museums. On the Senate side, Chuck Grassley (R-IA) could be the new chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He has a history of investigating tax-exempt organizations, including museum-related issues. AAM will be monitoring developments closely.

Education: House Democrats outlined their education agenda, which includes a number of funding initiatives. AAM will seek opportunities to highlight museums' expanding role in an evolving ecosystem of P-12 education in committee hearings and staff briefings.

Lame-Duck Session of Congress November 13-December (TBD): In the meantime, the current Congress returns November 13 with much unfinished business. Key priorities for the museum community include IMLS reauthorization, unfinished appropriations and nonprofit and charitable giving tax legislation.

What You Can Do Now

Share Your Connections: The AAM Government Relations & Advocacy staff looks forward to working with the new Congress. We know that you may already have connections with your new or returning members of Congress and hope you will share that information with us by filling out our Washington Connections Contact Form, so we can work together on outreach. 

Invite Legislators to Visit your Museum: We also encourage you to invite returning and new members of Congress to visit your institution and tell them your story about the vital positive impact you have on improving your community.

Mark Your Calendar for Museums Advocacy Day 2019: Registration for Museums Advocacy Day 2019 will be opening shortly and we can't wait to join with museum advocates this February on Capitol Hill to make our case early in the new Congress. Together as a field we've defeated several attempts to eliminate or de-fund federal agencies supporting museums, but we must keep speaking up for museums. Museums Advocacy Day is a unique opportunity to network with peers from your region, hear from agency and nonprofit leaders and build your own professional skills. Whether you are a new or seasoned advocate, you will get all the preparation you need to effectively make the case for museums in 2019. We hope you will Save the Date, Feb. 25-26 in Washington, D.C. and plan to participate!

Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center doors to open

The Joplin Globe, November 9, 2018

“A multimillion-dollar cultural center that’s been years in the making has become a reality for the Shawnee Tribe, which plans a grand opening today.

Tribal officials described the moment as “a dream come true.”

“The Shawnee Tribe has worked for years to create a place where we can tell our own story,” Ben Barnes, Shawnee Tribe second chief, said in a statement. “Through hands-on exhibits and programs, we aim to our honor tribal heritage and encourage visitors to the area to learn more about Native American history and ways of life.”

The estimated $2 million Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center officially opens to the public at 10 a.m. today at 19 N. Eight Tribes Trail in Miami. Located behind the Oklahoma Welcome Center, the center is about 6,000 square feet and features a round fire pit near the entrance to resemble ceremonial grounds.

The building’s architecture resembles a longhouse structure, a traditional home built by Native Americans, according to Marnie Leist, Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center director.”

More here.

Join CMA | Get 10% off 

In celebration of the Annual Meeting in San Jose and the awarding of the first ever CMA Book Award, we are offering 10% off our membership dues. To access this deal, go to americananthro.org/membership and use this promo code at checkout: AMWCMA

Promotion Ends: November 19, 2018
*Offer is valid for first-time and/or lapsed members (2 years or more) who join during the week of the AAA Annual Meeting. This is a one-time, non-transferrable offer. Dues must be paid in full when applying either online or in person.

More here.

Position Announcement: Curator of Global Contemporary Art, Nelson-Atkins Museum

The Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City is recognized nationally and internationally as one of America’s finest art museums is seeking an Associate/Assistant Curator to join its curatorial team

The museum, which strives to be where the power of art engages the spirit of community, opens its doors free of charge to people of all backgrounds. The museum is an institution that both challenges and comforts, that both inspires and soothes, and it is a destination for inspiration, reflection and connecting with others.

The Nelson-Atkins serves the community by providing access to its renowned collection of over 40,000 art objects and is best known for its Asian art, European and American paintings, photography, modern sculpture, and new American Indian and Egyptian galleries. Housing a major art research library and the Ford Learning Center, the Museum is a key educational resource for the region. In 2017, the Nelson-Atkins celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the Bloch Building, a critically acclaimed addition to the original 1933 Nelson-Atkins Building.

The Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park
The Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park, a 22-acre of parkland on the museum campus, is named in recognition of the lasting legacy Donald J. Hall created with his leadership and generosity. The land that surrounds the museum, considered one of the nation’s finest settings for a major art museum, is home to 36 sculptures. The museum has a partnership with the City of Kansas City, Missouri, to activate the parks surrounding the museum’s grounds.

Basic Function
The Curator, Global Contemporary Art is responsible for research, exhibition, documentation, preservation, and growth of the Contemporary art (post-1980-present) collection, with a primary focus on the works in the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park. The Associate Curator/Curator is responsible for the permanent collection, gallery installations, and generating original exhibitions related to their expertise and collection area, and serves as a member of a larger team for curatorial, exhibition-related, and educational museum projects.

Summary of Responsibilities: Assists and advises the Director and CEO and Director of Curatorial Affairs on matters concerning the collections, their documentation, care, and disposition and exhibitions of global art from 1980 to the present in all media.
Researches, publishes, interprets and installs collection in novel ways. Collaborates with internal departments, donors, lenders, and artists to ensure a rich and vital program.

Conceptualizes and organizes exhibitions and collections installations in all media that place the collection in cultural and historical context; writes label copy and works with Interpretation team on installations, exhibitions and other interpretative strategies; plans programming with Public Programs, Membership and other departments; and collaborates with Advancement division on donor relations. In consultation with these teams, organizes all aspects of exhibitions, including generating loans, securing venues for travel, and organizing installations.

Works to develop collections with area, national and international collectors to strengthen the museum’s collection through gifts and purchases. Liaises with artists, galleries, and lenders to commission work or secure loans for exhibitions.

Catalogues and conducts research on Contemporary collections—collaborating with other curatorial departments including Photography, American Art, American Indian Art, European Painting and Sculpture, East Asian Art, South and Southeast Asian Art, African Art, and Architecture, Design and Decorative Arts as well as Registration department; updates document files and insurance valuation. Works with Conservation department on the care of works. Answers or directs inquiries and requests for information on collections.

Follows the art market and maintains dealer relations for new acquisitions; conducts research for possible purchases and/or gifts. Presents proposed acquisitions and deaccessions to the Director and CEO and Director of Curatorial Affairs. Supports the Director in promoting relationships with donors and collectors.

Conducts tours and lectures on the permanent collections and installations for the general public, museum docents, donors, and the media.  

More here.

Position Announcement: Chief Curator African American Museum and Library at Oakland

The Chief Curator directs and leads the curatorial work and operational administration of AAMLO. Reporting to the Director of Library Services, the Chief Curator integrates the resources and services of a museum, archives and a library to create a unique and innovative historical preservation and learning center that advances and achieves the mission of AAMLO. The Chief Curator will provide visionary programmatic, exhibition and collection development leadership to a staff of 6 and oversee a budget of approximately $1M annually. Most of the funding is for staff and building maintenance. AAMLO is funded as part of the Oakland Public Library's budget and programming and exhibits are enhanced through private donations and grants raised by the Oakland Public Library and Chief Curator.

The City of Oakland is dynamic with 50 distinct and eclectic neighborhoods, 17 commercial districts, an increasingly vibrant downtown, a strong economic base, world-class arts and entertainment venues, superior cultural and recreational amenities, and a rich multicultural heritage. Oakland is the eighth largest city in California with an estimated population of 425,195 (2017 U.S. Census Bureau). The city serves as the administrative seat of Alameda County and the center of commerce and international trade for Northern California.

Oakland is one of the most diverse and ethnically integrated urban cities in the nation, with nearly equal representation from Hispanic and Latino, Asian, African-American, and Caucasian residents, speaking over 125 languages and dialects, as well as one of the country's largest Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) communities. Oakland encompasses 56 square miles and is ideally located on the east side of the San Francisco Bay with easy access to anywhere in the Bay Area.

More here.

Galloway Trust PhD Scholarship, University of Aberdeen

The Department of Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen has just advertised the Galloway Trust PhD scholarship.  Candidates with research interests in any area of Anthropology that fits within the department’s research themes (one of which is Museums and Histories of Science) and who either already have a Masters in Anthropology with research training, or are currently studying for one, are welcome to apply. The scholarship is open to Home/EU students and covers fees and a stipend for three years. The closing date is 31 January 2019. 

The Council for Museum Anthropology Program and Reception at this year’s AAA Meeting

CMA is looking forward to this year’s AAA Annual Meeting, taking place November 14–18.

All members are encouraged to attend our general Business Meeting(4-0650 in the AAA program) on Friday, November 16, 12:15–1:30 PM.

That evening, we invite you to a members-only reception at theSan Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles!

520 S 1st St, San Jose, CA 95113

November 16th, 7:45–10:30 PM 

2018 Annual Meeting Events

 There are workshops and tours at this year’s meeting that may be of interest to CMA members, including:

Wednesday 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM 

(2-0260) Archival Research 101


Diana E. Marsh 

National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian NMNH


Gina Rappaport

National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian NMNH


Alex Pezzati

Penn Museum Archives


Guha Shankar

American Folklife Center, Library of Congress


Laura Cutter

National Museum of Health and Medicine Archives


Learning Objectives:

  • understand the general principles that govern archival organization and descriptive practices, as well as decrypt archival jargon

  • Understand the types of records that are found in archival repositories and how they may be used

  • Determine strategies for locating materials of interest in archival repositories and gain skills in searching online catalogs and finding aids


Thursday, November 15 2:00 PM - 6:00 PM

(3-0998) Field Trip to the Computer History Museum

A guided tour of the Computer History Museum will highlight past and ongoing contributions of anthropologists to the development of Silicon Valley. 

2018 Museum Anthropology Panels

We are anticipating a fantastic AAA meeting this November with intriguing panels sponsored by the Council of Museum Anthropology. Notable relevant and CMA-sponsored panels include:

Wednesday, November 14


4:30 PM - 6:30 PM

(2-0620) Materiality, Movement, and Meaning: Resistance, Resilience, and Adaptation in the Indigenous ‘Deep Local’

Organizer and Presenter

W Warner Wood 

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 

Hearst Ginda Verde: Following a Textile Pattern, Unraveling a Global Mimetic Meshwork 


Chair and Presenter

Hadley Jensen 

Bard Graduate Center / American Museum of Natural History 

The Art of Making and the Making of an Art Form: The Production and Preservation of Indigenous Knowledge in Navajo Dye Charts 



Alanna Cant 

University of Kent, Canterbury 

13 Grains of Maize: Material Religion and History in the ‘Deep Local’ of Witchcraft in Oaxaca, Mexico 


Ira Jacknis 

UC Berkeley

Interlacing Traditions: Weaving as Ethnography


David Odo 

Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University 

The “Deep Local” Comes to Campus: the global flow of contemporary indigenous art from Australia at the Harvard Art Museums 



Joshua A. Bell 

Smithsonian NMNH 

Thursday, November 15

10:15 AM - 12:00 PM

(3-0360) Approaches to Expanding the Use of Anthropological Archives 


Organizer and Presenter

Diana E. Marsh 

National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian NMNH


Chair and Presenter

Adrianna Link 

American Philosophical Society 



David Zeitlyn

University of Oxford


Sarah Buchanan 

Assistant Professor University of Missouri 


Ricardo Punzalan 

University of Maryland, College Park 


Emily Leischner 

University of British Columbia 


2:00 PM – 3:45 PM

(3-0870) Institutional Reflections and Research Directions in Museum Anthropology 


Chair and Presenter 

Elizabeth Oakley 

University of Pennsylvania 

Our Museums, Our Selves: Reproducing Intellectual Subjectivities and Anthropological Subjects 



Christopher Green 

University of Pennsylvania 

Re-Collecting Race: Imaginaries of Difference at the Musée du quai Branly 


Maia Behrendt 

University of Nebraska-Lincoln 

The Museum and the Representation of Indigenous Cultures: From Static Dioramas to Fluid and Evolving Spaces for Collaboration 


Diana Marks 

Independent Researcher 

Missionaries, Zonians, Traders: Adaptations of Guna Indigenous Dress in 20th Century Panama 


Nicole Ursin 

University of Arkansas at Little Rock 

Understanding Museum Demographics: Historic Arkansas Museum 


*Late-breaking Session

4:15 PM – 6:00 PM

(3-1038) Out of the Ashes:International Solidarity and the Challenges for Rebuilding Anthropology at Brazil’s National Museum in Rio de Janeiro



Beth Conklin 

Vanderbilt University 



Carlos Londoño Sulkin 

Professor University of Regina 



Carlos Fausto 

Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro 


Aparecida Vilaça 

Museu Nacional/UFRJ 


Danilyn Rutherford 

Wenner-Gren Foundation 


Ed Liebow 

American Anthropological Association 

Friday, November 16

 10:15 AM – 12:00 PM

(4-0460) Pragmatic Imagination, University Collections, and the New Museum Anthropology

Organizer, Chair, & Presenter

Christina Hodge

Stanford University Archaeology Collections

Pragmatic Virtuality: A Strategic Partnership in 3D Scanning 



Margaret Bruchac

University of Pennsylvania 

Approaching Reconciliation: Thoughts on Transforming Repatriation Practice 


Esteban Gomez 

University of Denver 

Artistic Explorations of Place: Creative Pragmatism in University Anthropology Museums 


Amanda Guzman 

University of California, Berkeley 

Teaching Museum Anthropology and Cultural Equity by Design 


Louise Hamby 

Australian National University 

The Potential of the Berndt Flour Bin 


Emily Rogers 

Indiana University 

Exhibiting Moments: Cherokee Craft at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures 



Christina Kreps 

University of Denver  

Saturday, November 17 

8:00 AM – 9:45 AM

(5-0235) Voices out of the dark? Contemporary museum-like practices and culturalized politics. 

Chair and Presenter

Mary Mostafanezhad 

University of Hawaii, Manoa 


Origanizer and Presenter

Paula Mota Santos 

Fernando Pessoa University & CAPP/ISCSP-Lisbon University 

Bringing Slavery into light in Post-colonial Portugal


Hugo DeBlock 

Ghent University, Belgium

Objects as Archives of a Disrupted Past: Art In and Out of Vanuatu 



Rachel Giraudo 

California State University, Northridge 

Stemming the Stoner Stereotype: Post-Prohibition Representations of Cannabis Cultures in California


Cristiana Bastos 

University of Lisbon 

Plantation Memories, Labor Identities, and the Celebration of Heritage: the Portuguese in Hawaii 


Kathleen Adams 

Loyola University Chicago 

Authoritative Aspirations, Emotional Considerations: From Toraja Grave Displays to Locally-Configured Museums


Christina Kreps 

University of Denver 


 10:15 AM – 12:00 PM

(5-0415) How Experimental Are You? Museum anthropology as a catalyst for shaping the discipline 

Organizer and Presenter

Jennifer Kramer 

University of British Columbia 

Exhibiting Nuxalk Radio at the University of British Columbia – An Experimental Crucible for Healing and Well-being 


Chair and Presenter

Gwyneira Isaac 

Smithsonian NMNH 

Have You Socialized Your Humans Yet? A graduate course in anthropology, museums and the body



Jen Shannon 

University of Colorado - Boulder 

NAGPRA Comics: Risking the media for the message 


Cara Krmpotich 

University of Toronto 

"An Anonymous Stitch in the Quilt": An experiment in collaborative making and listening 


Lea McChesney 

University of New Mexico, Maxwell Museum of Anthropology

“Keeping Our Connections to Up Home”: Museum-Community Collaborations, Gendered Knowledge, and Community Building in the Hopi Pottery Oral History Project 


Mark Auslander 

Michigan State University Museum 

This is our Home: Museums and Rights to the City in an Era of Crisis 


Jennifer Kirker 

The Pick Museum, Northern Illinois University

Experiments in activism: a life history approach to academic museums 


2:00 PM – 3:45 PM

(5-0800) Fostering the Anthropological Imagination: The work of Frances and Howard Morphy 


Organizer and Presenter

Joshua Bell 

Smithsonian NMNH

Clever People: The Collaborative Scholarship and Transformative work of Frances and Howard Morphy 



Veronica Strang 

Durham University 

Looking Out From Ethnography: celebrating cultural diversity and cross-cultural comparison


Fred Myers 

New York University 

Engaging the Other: Aesthetics, Ritual and the Category of Art in the Work of Howard Morphy 


Annick Thomassin 

Australian National University 

Politics, Sea rights and Fisheries Co-management in Torres Strait, Australia 


Corinne Kratz 

Emory University 

Morphy + Morphy = Imagination2


Chair and Discussant 

Francoise Dussart 

University of Connecticut 



Marcus Banks 

University of Oxford 

Chicago's Field Museum announces plans to revamp Native American Hall — with Native Americans as 'partners'

The Chicago Tribune, October 29, 2018

“The Field Museum will transform its aged Native North American Hall in the next three years, working to develop the new exhibits with Native Americans as “community partners,” the museum announced Monday.

It is a “much, much needed renovation,” Field president and CEO Richard Lariviere said. “This project intends to correct the way the museum tells the Native American history by doing so through the lens and voices of Native Americans.”

The hall will remain open throughout the three-year overhaul, with fall of 2021 as the targeted completion date, but some of the artifacts in the Chicago natural history museum’s rich collection have already begun to be taken down.

“I think it’s going to be one of the most exciting projects the museum has ever undertaken,” said Alaka Wali, curator of North American anthropology. “The challenge is to bring out our spectacular collections, but contextualize them in a way that connects the past to the present and the continuity of the Native American experience.”

The current displays date mostly back to the 1950s and in addition to being relatively stodgy in their presentation of materials by contemporary museum standards, they treat native peoples as parts of the past.”

More here.

Tribe Outlines Plans for $32 million Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center

EDHAT Santa Barbara, October 23, 2018

“After decades of longing for a place to celebrate its heritage, share its history, and educate visitors about its rich culture, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians is one step closer to realizing that dream.

Tribal leadership was joined by architects, designers and dedicated members of its staff on Monday at the reservation’s Tribal Hall to present plans for its forthcoming Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center, a $32 million project that will be located adjacent to Highway 246 on 6.9 acres of land that was placed into federal trust for the tribe.

“We are excited that we’ve finally reached the stage where we can begin construction on our Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center,” said Kenneth Kahn, Tribal Chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. “This is something our tribe has wanted for a long time. To see it come to fruition will be a dream come true for many of us.”

The stated mission of the Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center is “to promote respect, knowledge and dialog by sharing the cultural heritage of the first people of the area and the present day Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. Our stories will connect the past with the present in order to inform our shared future. The museum and cultural center will achieve this through collecting, preserving and presenting outstanding collections, images and programs about our Chumash culture.””

More here.

Easter Islanders Ask British Museum to Return Sacred Statue, Offering Replica in Return

Hyperallergic, October 23, 2018

“The eight-foot-tall Moai sculpture at the British Museum is called Hoa Hakananai’a, which translates to “the stolen or hidden friend.” This name is fitting, since the four-ton statue was stolen from the island in 1868 by Royal Navy captain Richard Powell, and presented as a gift to Queen Victoria. She donated it to the national museum in London in 1869.


Now, as reported by the Guardian, the Rapa Nui people, indigenous to Easter Island, would like their statue back, please and thank you. As Easter Island sits about 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile, advocates for the reclamation and restoration of Rapa Nui culture have petitioned the Chilean government to arbitrate on their behalf for the return of the work — which is not only considered an object of sacred worship, but believed to house the spirit or mana of the depicted deity.

Now, as reported by the Guardian, the Rapa Nui people, indigenous to Easter Island, would like their statue back, please and thank you. As Easter Island sits about 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile, advocates for the reclamation and restoration of Rapa Nui culture have petitioned the Chilean government to arbitrate on their behalf for the return of the work — which is not only considered an object of sacred worship, but believed to house the spirit or mana of the depicted deity.

While respecting religious customs tends to raise the stakes, in terms of the path of moral righteousness, it’s worth noting that you’re on the wrong side of Ethics 101 for stealing anything, even an Easter Island ashtray, and refusing to return it.

More here.