At Byberry Quaker Library, a Grim Find: Native American Remains in Display Case, May 21, 2018

"Louellyn White came to Pennsylvania to search for graves of native children who died after their Carlisle Indian School masters sent them out to work as maids and farmhands.

But as she hunted for burial records in the dusky, seldom-used library of the Byberry Quaker Meeting in Philadelphia, she made a horrifying discovery: a yellowed skull, labeled as Native American, set in a display case among a collection of rocks and fossils.

A note taped to the cabinet said the skull was dug out of a canal near Lambertville, N.J., part of a skeleton that in one hand held a pipe and hatchet.


“It’s just wrong,” said White, of Mohawk descent, who teaches First Peoples Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. “This is really an ancestor here, who’s been stuck on this shelf next to animal skulls.”

A Meeting representative said that she was shocked by the find — and that the Quakers will offer to return the remains, to conduct a burial, or take any action that Indian leaders may desire.

“We want to do the right thing,” said Mary Ellen McNish, a longtime member and former clerk of the Meeting. “We will do whatever they want.”"

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DAM’s Jeffrey Gibson Exhibit Takes a Powerful Swing at Native American Invisibility

The Know, Denver Post, May 18, 2018

"Jeffrey Gibson wants to make connections: Between Native American tradition and contemporary art, between anger and release, oppression and expression, masculine and feminine, between the tipi architecture of his ancestors and the easy-breezy music of George Michael, Stevie Wonder and Public Enemy.


Twentieth Century pop pulses in the background of “Like a Hammer,” an exhibit of Gibson’s recent work now at the Denver Art Museum, just like the 46-year-old artist says it did in his studio back in his coming-of-age days. The music loosened him up, helped him sort out his identity, filtered the fact of his Cherokee background through the fiction that Indian culture barely existed in mainstream America.

His art aims to reconcile those two worlds, and it does so elaborately, colorfully, blatantly, beautifully. The materials that make up his two- and three-dimensional objects in “Like a Hammer” carry a message, and centuries of indigenous history: beads, fringe, elk hide, turquoise and tin jingles, those tiny bells that dancers wear and shake for effect at powwows.

These things are brought together, with skill and precision, using native techniques. Their presentation on the main floor of an established cultural institution like DAM brings credibility to the sort of “craft” that usually plays second to the “art” of European painting and sculpting in the museum world."

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New York Times: Berlin Museum Returns Artifacts to Indigenous People of Alaska

May 16, 2018, The New York Times

"The foundation overseeing state museums in Berlin returned nine artifacts to indigenous communities in Alaska on Wednesday after it determined that they had been taken from a burial site in the 1880s.

 Image via  The New York Times

Image via The New York Times

“The objects were taken from graves without permission of the native people, and thus unlawfully,” said Hermann Parzinger, the president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees Berlin's publicly funded museums. “Therefore, they don’t belong in our museums,” he added.

The items, which included several masks, a wooden idol and a baby basket, had been in the collection of Berlin’s Ethnographic Museum, though they were never exhibited publicly. Between 1882 and 1884, they were taken by Johan Adrian Jacobsen, a Norwegian adventurer and amateur ethnographer acting on behalf of the museum.

In front of members of the media, Mr. Parzinger handed a fragment of a large wooden mask to John F.C. Johnson, a representative of the Alaskan Chugach people. Both men, wearing white cotton gloves, held the mask between them for photographers."

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Hearst Museum Opens Digital Portal to its Entire Collections

Berkeley News, May 15, 2018

"UC Berkeley’s Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, whose world-class collections range from Egyptian mummy sarcophagi to Peruvian textiles to Native American baskets, has opened a digital portal to expand public access to its collections of more than 3 million objects, photographs, films and sound recordings.

Two years in the making, the Hearst Museum Portal will enable researchers and the public at large to go online and examine all of the museum’s cataloged objects and much of the accompanying documentation via a user-friendly interface.

“In line with the Hearst Museum’s vision of serving as a place where cultures connect, we view the portal as contributing to the resources on offer to our stakeholders,” said Hearst Museum Director Benjamin Porter, an associate professor of Near Eastern archaeology.

With an estimated 3.8 million objects, the museum, housed in the campus’s Kroeber Hall, boasts among the nation’s largest anthropological collections."

More here.

Upcoming Deadline: Call for Letters of Interest to Host Next Council for Museum Anthropology Biennial Conference (2019)

The Council for Museum Anthropology (CMA) seeks expressions of interest from members whose institutions may wish to host our next Museum Anthropology conference in spring 2019. The biennial CMA conference aims to foster critical reflection and discussion on (1) the state of museum anthropology as an academic discipline; (2) innovative methods for the use of collections; (3) exhibition experiments that engage with anthropological research; and (4) museums as significant sites for grappling with pressing social concerns such as immigration, inequality, racism, colonial legacies, heritage preservation, cultural identities, representation, and creativity as productive responses to these. Organizers will choose the themes and title of the conference.

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Eligible institutions include universities, museums, research centers, or other venues appropriate for a two-and-a-half-day conference of about 150 participants. The inaugural conference was held in May 2017 at Concordia University in Montreal, attended by 111 persons.  For more information on the inaugural conference, entitled Museum Anthropology Futures, please visit

Letters of interest should describe your interest in hosting the conference as well as your institution’s ability to provide the following:

  • Financial support and/or grantwriting assistance
  • Administrative support (travel, bookings, planning, program printing, etc.)
  • Auditorium and presentation rooms (please specify seating capacity)
  • Projection/Audiovisual capabilities and associated technical support
  • Student volunteers

CMA will also consider your campus/city’s ability to provide housing accommodations suitable for various income levels.

Letters of interest are welcome to propose additional pre- or post-conference seminars, training opportunities, side events, and tours of local museums and heritage sites of potential interest to CMA members.

We would be happy to provide further details (including our earlier successful grant submissions and a final conference report) to all interested parties. Please submit your letter of interest by May 15, 2018 to Robert Leopold, CMA President ( and Diana Marsh, CMA Secretary (


Fellowship Opportunity: Post-Doctoral Fellow in Native American Art and Curation,Yale University Art Gallery and the Department of the History of Art, Yale University

The position will provide curatorial training in a dynamic museum setting and extensive opportunities for scholarly research based on close work with Yale museum and library staff and collections, including at the Art Gallery, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, and Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, as well as other sources. It will also offer the opportunity to conceive and teach a seminar in the History of Art Department each semester and receive mentoring on research, publication, and pedagogy.

The Fellowship is designed to support the highest level of professional development in all aspects of curatorial work. The Fellow will gain experience in collection research and cataloguing, conservation, exhibition organization, education and publications, programming, public speaking, and provenance research. The Fellow will collaborate with a broad range of Gallery staff and learn the workings of a major university museum that also serves a diverse public audience.

The Fellow will oversee a student-led installation drawn from Yale collections. In keeping with the Gallery’s educational mission, the Fellow will involve and mentor students in their work and collaborate with, encourage, and assist Yale faculty who have interests related to the collections.

The Fellow should be passionate about and qualified in the field of Native American Art – about caring for collection objects, researching and interpreting them, and presenting them to the public as both works of art and as primary resources for cultural history. The Fellow should have a keen eye for objects and design and a strong interest in museum display. S/he should be deeply committed to the educational use and potential of museum collections.

Required Skills

-Completed Ph.D. in History of Art or a related discipline specializing in Native American Art.

-Demonstrated research skills across a broad spectrum of Native American Art as well as a specialized focus within the field.

-Knowledge of and sensitivity to contemporary Native American communities and willingness to work with the Advisory Council on Native American Art and Culture.

-Developed writing and speaking skills for communicating with audiences ranging from the general public to international scholars.

-Experience in teaching undergraduate and graduate students at the university level.


-Desire and ability to build collaborative relationships and work effectively in the History of Art Department, the Gallery, and to collaborate with colleagues across the University.

The major duties and responsibilities of the Fellow are:

1. To conduct collection research, installation planning, and interpretation in collaboration with the Advisory Council on Native American Art and Culture and meet monthly, either in person or via telecommunications, with Prof. Ruth Phillips, consultant on Native American Art. 

2. To curate a significant gallery display or loan exhibition in collaboration with a group of Yale students on a subject relating to Native American Art at the end of the second year of the fellowship under the direction of the Gallery’s Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture—or another curator whose field more closely aligns with the Fellow’s and the scope of the exhibition—and Senior Deputy Director. 

3. To teach two courses per year of the Fellowship in the History of Art Department and to participate where requested in advising senior essays and other student projects. One will be a graduate seminar, one an undergraduate seminar. The syllabus must be approved in advance by, respectively, the Director of Graduate Studies and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the History of Art Department. The Fellow must abide by all regulations governing teaching at Yale University. 

4. To participate in programs and other events and initiatives at Yale University Art Gallery. 

5. To participate fully in the intellectual life of the History of Art Department, attending lectures, events and conferences. 

The Fellow will report to the Gallery’s Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture—or another curator whose field more closely aligns with the Fellow’s—and to the Chair of the Department of the History of Art.

Start date for the position is September 1, 2018

To Apply: Please submit a letter by e-mail (PDF or MSWord format are acceptable) describing your interest in the Fellowship and relevant experience along with your CV, a writing sample, and a list of three references to Mark D. Mitchell, Holcombe T. Green Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, Yale University Art Gallery at


Graduate Student Visual Anthropology Funding Announcement: SVA/Robert Lemelson Foundation Fellowship Program

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The SVA/Robert Lemelson Foundation Fellowships are designed to provide graduate students working in the field of visual and multimodal anthropology with funding to pursue exploratory research for planning their doctoral dissertation research and/or methods training to prepare for their doctoral dissertation research. Research projects supported by the funding should have the potential of advancing the field of visual anthropology.

Normally, fellows receive their awards after their first or second year of graduate training as they begin to develop their dissertation research projects. We expect to award up to six fellowships in 2018 with each fellow receiving up to an amount of $6,000 depending upon need. Of the total amount granted, up to $2,500 may be used for video/film equipment.


  • Fellowships are open to all graduate students without regard to citizenship or place of residence.
  • Applicants must be enrolled in a graduate program at the time of application and during the period of the fellowship.
  • Applicants’ proposed research must be in the field of visual anthropology, broadly defined, but they do not need to be students in departments of anthropology.
  • Applicants cannot have completed more than four years of graduate education, including all institutions that they have attended. The funding cannot be used to collect data for the fellow’s master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation.
  • Applicants must be current members of the Society of Visual Anthropology (SVA), a section of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) as of May 18, 2018. Details on joining the AAA and the SVA can be found here. Note: If the applicant is not a current member, we suggest submitting the membership application well in advance to be sure that the membership is current by the deadline.
  • Fellows are prohibited from accepting the Robert Lemelson Foundation Fellowship in conjunction with any other summer or research funding for the same project over the same time frame as the proposed research supported by the Robert Lemelson Foundation Fellowship.
  • All fellows are required to attend the 2018 AAA Annual Meeting to be held in San Jose, CA (November 14-18, 2018).

Permissible Uses of Robert Lemelson Foundation Fellowship 

Funding: Financial support can be requested to support all travel expenses, including airfare, ground transportation, and visa application fees; living expenses and housing; fieldwork expenses such as gifts for participants, translator and field assistant fees; and all other reasonable and justified expenses. Funds may not be used to pay for graduate school tuition. 

 Budgets must include financial support up to a maximum of $600 to attend the 2018 AAA Annual Meeting to be held in San Jose.  

Funding cannot be used to support language training in more commonly taught languages, such as Spanish, French, and Arabic. Some funding can be used to support language instruction for languages where formal instruction is limited, but the focus of the project should be on pursuing exploratory research rather than strictly language instruction. Funding can be used for methods training, but the methods in question must be tied directly to the larger research project and it will be this project that is the focus of the selection committee’s review. Proposals for general methods or statistical training, for example, are unlikely to be funded. 

 We expect to fund proposals between $3,000 and $6,000. You may request a larger amount than the stated limit, but it is very unlikely that an award over $6,000 will be made.

Application Components

  1. Application form: Download the fellowship application from the Robert Lemelson Foundation Fellowship website, complete the form using Adobe Acrobat or Reader, and save it with your last name in the title.
  2. Project statement: In 750 -1,000 words (excluding references), please describe the specific research activities or training that you will carry out with support from the SVA/Robert Lemelson Foundation Fellowship. Explain in detail how you will use your time, including any preliminary data you will collect and analysis you are considering. Please specify the ways in which this preliminary research and/or methods training has the potential to make your dissertation research more successful. Please indicate whether you have ever spent time in the field site in question. If so, please indicate the length of time and experience you have there, and how this bout of research will be different from previous visits. Finally, your proposal should specifically address how your research program has the potential to advance the field of visual/multimodal anthropology. The statement should be single-spaced, and use a 12-point font and one-inch margins on all sides. Any references included should be narrowly focused, and should not exceed 300 words.
  3. Brief curriculum vitae: In one single-spaced page, provide details on your education with dates of enrollment; any research funding, fellowships, and awards you may have received, including amounts and dates, and any academic publications and presentations you may have completed. Include details on prior employment, volunteer work, and other experience only if it is directly relevant to the proposed research. Other information such as teaching experience should not be included.
  4. Budget and budget justification: In one single-spaced page, provide a detailed and specific budget with justification for the items and amounts included. Justification should include mention of how costs were estimated. Your budget must include support up to $600 for attendance at the 2018 AAA meetings, and this amount can be listed as a single item in your budget.
  5. Letter of recommendation: Applicants must obtain a letter written in support of their application from a faculty member familiar with their work and research aspirations. Normally, this will be the chair of the student’s graduate research advisory committee. Please provide the attached information sheet to the individual who is writing the letter. It is the applicant’s responsibility to be sure that the letter is received by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Only one letter of recommendation will be accepted.

Deadline and Submission Details

The deadline for application submission is Friday, May 18, 2018 at 5 PM.

Your application should consist of only two files: (1) a PDF of the completed application form (section #1 above), and (2) a single PDF file that includes sections #2 (project statement and references), #3 (curriculum vitae), and #4 (budget and justification). Please include your last name in the name of both files. To submit your application, please email both files as an attachment to the SVA’s President Matthew Durington by the deadline. 

Applications received after this time and date will not be reviewed. We expect to contact awardees by the end of April, and hope to contact all applicants by May 25, 2018. Please contact Matthew Durington or Stephanie Takaragawa with any questions or if there are any changes to your application, including receipt of other funding.

Letter of Recommendation Instructions

Your graduate student is applying for a SVA/Robert Lemelson Foundation Fellowship, which is designed to provide students working in the field of visual anthropology with funding to pursue exploratory research for planning their doctoral dissertation research and / or methods training to prepare for their dissertation research. Research projects supported by the funding should have the potential of advancing the field of visual/multimodal anthropology. Normally, fellows receive their awards after their first or second year of graduate training as they develop their dissertation research projects. Funds cannot be used to collect data for the student’s master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. 

We ask that you complete a letter of recommendation in support of the student and their proposed research project. In the letter, please describe the circumstances under which you have come to know about the applicant’s academic potential. You may wish to discuss the applicant’s academic strengths and weaknesses, their relative success in meeting degree progress timelines, professional accomplishments to date, and career goals. Please evaluate the importance of the work they propose to do, and the likelihood that the award will lead to a stronger dissertation. These awards are specifically intended to further research in visual anthropology, so please be sure to indicate how the student’s proposed project may do so. You may submit your letter via email as a PDF or MS Word document to the SVA President, Matthew Durington by May 18, 2018 5PM EST. 

This is a hard deadline, and unfortunately incomplete applications will not be reviewed. All letters of reference will be kept strictly confidential. Thank you very much on behalf of the Society for Visual Anthropology and the Robert Lemelson Foundation Student Fellowship program!

Upcoming Deadline: CMA Student Travel Award

CMA Student Travel Award: Deadline May 15, 2018

The Council for Museum Anthropology’s Student Travel Awards are designed to support graduate student travel to the annual AAA meeting to present papers and/or posters. Current graduate students and recent graduate degree recipients (those who have defended within the year of the award) are eligible to apply. Each year, CMA will award up to two prizes of $500 each.

Application packets (maximum 5 pages) must include: a brief letter indicating the applicant’s student status and explaining how this project reflects the student’s graduate work; a copy of the abstract for the proposed paper or poster (and for the session in which they will be presenting, if known); and a letter of endorsement from an academic advisor at the student’s institution of study. Applications must be submitted as digital data (Word documents, pdf files and/or jpg files), sent via email to arrive on or before the deadline. Email all four members of the Awards Committee:
W. Warner Wood (Chair)
Karl Hoerig
Adrian Van Allen
Joshua A. Bell<

Evaluation Criteria: 1) Creativity: Is the paper or poster a unique and novel contribution to museum anthropology? 2) Commitment: Does the student demonstrate a commitment to the field of museum anthropology? 3) Impact: Does the paper or poster have the potential to develop into a work that could more broadly impact the field of museum anthropology?

Student Travel Award recipients will be formally recognized at the CMA Reception during the AAA Annual Meeting. They will be presented with a check for $500 and a certificate of the award. They will also be highlighted in the CMA column in Anthropology News. Award winners will be notified so they have sufficient time to make travel arrangements.

Position Announcement: Curator, Africa, The British Museum

The British Museum is looking to recruit an experienced, energetic and dedicated individual to undertake research into, and make publicly accessible, the outstanding African collections of the British Museum as a curator in the Museum’s Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. The Africa collections (numbering around 100,000 objects) incorporate early pictorial material as well as significant ethnographic, historical, archaeological and contemporary art collections.

Over the last ten years the Museum’s Africa Programme has developed collaborative partnerships with museums and heritage institutions on the African continent. The individual appointed to this role should have considerable experience working with partners in Africa and be committed to supporting this important aspect of the role.

Key areas of responsibility:

• Develop a strategic plan for the Africa collection and oversee its implementation in consultation with senior Museum staff.
• Lead major research projects on, and beyond, the African collection including projects involving external partners.
• Make the Africa collection publicly accessible for worldwide public benefit via high-profile exhibition, publication, digital, permanent display, and broadcast projects.
• Lead, manage and motivate curatorial and research teams working especially on the African collections. This includes managing performance and supporting professional development.
• Lead on upgrading the documentation of the Africa collection.

Person Specification:

The successful candidate will hold at minimum an undergraduate degree, or equivalent, in Anthropology, Art History, Archaeology or another related subject and have experience and be able to demonstrate deep knowledge of African cultures and collections. You will have a strong track record of field experience in Africa, particularly West Africa. You will have experience securing research funding and delivering research projects and publications. We are looking for someone who is an experienced manager of people, projects and budgets and has the ability to lead and manage curatorial and research teams.

More here

Position Announcement: Museum Registration Specialist, NMAI

This position is located in the Registration Department, National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), Smithsonian Institution. The employee maintains and upkeeps the Museum's Registration records related to accessioning, cataloging, inventory, and support for the NMAI exhibition and loan programs.

  • Maintains all correspondence and paperwork regarding the inventory of the collections, which includes but is not limited to original code sheets and inventory records, artifact master change sheets, computerized printouts, etc. related to all aspects of inventory required for future reference or for archival purposes. Maintains all procedures and governing rules for inventories regarding the collection, and completes annual inventories under the direction of the Registrar.
  • Catalogs new accessions which have been approved for the permanent collection. The duties include unpacking and inventory; consultation with the curatorial staff; independent research for purposes of identification; artifact condition reports; proper catalog and accession lot number assignment; preparing objects for numbering; coordinating pest management for new accessions; preparing objects for imaging; assuring that paper and computer records accurately document collection items; and data entry.
  • Maintains the Museum's paper collection documentation and electronic inventory records using commercial and customized software as provided.

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