"Museums Different" Day 2 - Anne Ray Interns' Report

For a few and select students and/or early career professionals like myself, Day 2 of the CMA Conference began in a closed session titled “Collaborating for Change.” There, in a safe and supportive environment, participants shared issues and brainstormed ideas for change. My biggest takeaway from the session as an emerging indigenous scholar and museum professional is that no single person is alone with their problems.

About midday, some of the other staff from SAR’s Indian Arts Research Center and myself attended the Artist Roundtable: “Decolonial Gaps in Endemically Colonial Spaces: Photography and Photographers in Archives and Museums.” During the session, I was in awe of the Native photographers’ and their work to better their own communities through the tool of photography. I particularly enjoyed Will Wilson (Diné) and Raphael Begay (Diné) who both work to reinterpret how Native peoples and their lives are photographed. 

The rest of the day was spent at the famed Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). Before dinner, attendees and myself heard from academics and museum professionals who spoke about their projects (and work) at their home institutions, all of which seemed to aid in the betterment of indigenous communities’ relationships to historically colonial institutions like schools and museums. This included notes from Porter Swentzell (Santa Clara Pueblo, IAIA) about his place-based education and Diane Bird (Santo Domingo Pueblo, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology) who explained her efforts connect non-native researchers with tribal communities to ensure accuracy in the spread of information. Lastly, we all had the opportunity to enter the studios of two amazing IAIA student artists, Jodi Webster (Ho-Chunk jeweler/3D laser artist) and Edwin Neel (Kwakwaka’wakw woodworking artist).       

Askwali to the nineteen Pueblo communities of O’gha Po’oge for hosting me and the rest of the CMA community.

-Erin Monique Grant (Colorado River Indian Tribes), Anne Ray Intern, Indian Arts Research Center, School for Advanced Research

"Museums Different" Day 1 - Anne Ray Interns' Report

On the first day of the CMA 2019 conference, museum professionals presented on some really inspiring work contending with settler colonial histories, and shared stories of collaborative successes, but also failures and the subsequent lessons learned. We started with a welcome from the local arrangements committee, and a land acknowledgement and blessing from John Garcia (Santa Clara Pueblo). This conference is taking place on the homelands of nineteen Pueblo communities and many other nations, specifically in O’gha Po’oge on Tewa land. We hope that conference goers acknowledge these communities and their withstanding connections to this place.

The opening keynote given by Lucy Lippard focused on exploitative, colonial relationships between settlers and Indigenous peoples, and Indigenous responses to these historical and ongoing relationships, exploring the connections between people and land, tourism, and the ways museum representations intersect with these topics. One of the key takeaways she presented were questions for artists and anthropologists to ask themselves when and where they are working: “are you wanted here? By whom?” Drawing on knowledge created by Indigenous scholars and artists, she highlighted the ways that these individuals are resisting settler colonial logics.

Later on in the day, I attended three panels, each contending with steps forward amid colonial pasts, imaginings surrounding the dismantling of the museum, and potential museum futures. Scholars from the Nuxalk nation and the University of British Columbia discussed cataloguing, language, and collections projects as acts of Nuxalk sovereignty. Professionals from The Natural History Museum, the Field Museum, and The Red Nation shared their work in building more ethically responsible museum spaces, acknowledging successes, some instances where the mark was missed, and the work that still needs to be done to remake museum spaces. The last panel I attended, “Dealing with Colonial Legacies,” shared some critical and insightful thoughts about if museums as we know it can ever shed their colonial roots, taking land acknowledgements as a verbal commitment for further decolonial work and recognizing the amount of work that needs to be done to truly make museum practice ethically responsible.

We rounded out the evening at SAR’s Indian Arts Research Center, sharing food and conversation. Tomorrow’s panels will continue to examine issues of place, collaboration, and possibilities for more socially and ethically responsible museum spaces.

-Amanda Sorensen, Anne Ray Intern, Indian Arts Research Center, School for Advanced Research

Position Announcement: Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Curator of Archaeology, University of New Mexico

The UNM Department of Anthropology and the UNM Maxwell Museum of Anthropology invite applications for a probationary tenure-track position of Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Curator of Archaeology. The successful candidate will maintain a strong field- and collections-based research program involving students. The candidate’s 50% Departmental duties include teaching two formal courses per year in the Department of Anthropology, supervising graduate students, and participating in Department service and governance. The candidate’s 50% Museum duties also include overseeing the curation and continued development of the archaeology collections and participating in Museum public programs, exhibit development and service.

For best consideration, application materials must be received by November 4, 2019. The position will remain open until filled. Questions related to this posting may be directed to committee chair, Carla Sinopoli (csinopoli@unm.edu)

UNM is both a research intensive university (Carnegie R1) and a minority-majority institution. It is located in Albuquerque, a city with a rich heritage in a culturally diverse, scenic landscape. The Department of Anthropology is family-friendly and comprises 25 tenure-track faculty members (http://anthropology.unm.edu/), ~150 undergraduate majors, a thriving graduate training program offering PhDs in Anthropology and MA degrees in Public Archaeology, and vibrant extramurally funded research programs.

The Maxwell Museum (https://maxwellmuseum.unm.edu/) holds collections of approximately 3 million objects derived from nearly a century of anthropological research in New Mexico and beyond. The collections are divided into three collecting divisions, each supported by a full-time collection manager. The museum maintains an active program of exhibitions, public programs, and educational activities and is committed to the use of its resources for public and community engagement and creating research and educational opportunities for UNM students.

UNM is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer and Educator. Women and underrepresented minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Free Student Museum Methods Workshop at AAA/CASCA, Vancouver

Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia

20 November 2019, 10:30 am – 2:30 pm

Sponsored by the Council for Museum Anthropology with generous funding from the AAA Section Mentoring Grant Program

The Council for Museum Anthropology (CMA) invites current and recently graduated students (undergraduate, masters, and PhD) to apply to a Museum Methods workshop to be held on Wednesday, November 20th from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm at the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, as part of the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. Students will be mentored on collaborative curating, exhibition techniques, and anthropological materials research by senior scholars and curators in small group sessions. Mentors include Jennifer Kramer (University of British Columbia), Susan Rowley (University of British Columbia), Jennifer Shannon (University of Colorado, Boulder), Joshua Bell (Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History), Diana Marsh (National Anthropological Archives), Morgan Guerin (Musqueam) and Debra Sparrow (Musqueam). The workshop will also involve an informal networking session during lunch (which will be provided). Transportation from the conference hotel to the Museum of Anthropology and back will be provided.

To apply, current student and recent graduate (2018-2019) members of AAA/CASCA, please submit an application with your contact information (email, phone), biographical details (Name, School, Department, Degree, Specialization), and a brief paragraph on why you are interested in this workshop and what you hope to learn from it (<250 words). Note that you do not need o be a member of CMA to apply. Applications should be sent to cmaapply@gmail.com by 30 September 2019. Decisions will be communicated by 10 October 2019, and applicants should confirm their attendance within a week of notification.

Lonnie Bunch, the Smithsonian’s first black leader, on the challenge of making it ‘a place that matters’

The Washington Post, August 30, 2019

“He has a reputation as an affable storyteller and a leader with the smarts of a professor and the demeanor of your next door neighbor. So there was little doubt that Lonnie Bunch III would be a new kind of leader for the Smithsonian Institution.

But would he be open to questions? Even this early in his tenure?

Just two months after his historic appointment as the 14th and first African American secretary to lead the 173-year-old institution, Bunch sat down for a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post. He showed a willingness to discuss tough subjects, including the challenges of making the Smithsonian “a place that matters.”

Bunch has been candid and outspoken, both in his forthcoming memoir and in one of his first interviews as secretary. In his new office in the Smithsonian’s historic administration building — where photos of his wife, two daughters and extended family are displayed alongside an autographed electric guitar (a gift from fellow New Jerseyan Jon Bon Jovi) and a poster of actor and activist Paul Robeson — Bunch offered a peek into his new job, tackling big issues and small with his trademark blend of humor and humility.”

More here.

Columbia University exhibition retells the story of America by foregrounding 'black genius'

The Art Newspaper, September 3, 2019

“Four hundred years after the arrival of the earliest documented Africans in the American colonies, Columbia University is commemorating that moment with a provocative exhibition exploring the central role of African Americans in forging an identity for the US.

Titled 20 and Odd: The 400th Anniversary of 1619, the show quotes from a letter penned by the English planter and merchant John Rolfe, who noted the disembarking of “20. and odd Negroes” from an English pirate ship in August 1619. All of those Africans were sold into bondage onshore in exchange for provisions, noted Rolfe, who is perhaps better known today for his marriage to the Native American Pocahontas.

Ranging from archival documents to contemporary works of art, the exhibition at Columbia’s LeRoy Neiman Gallery “aims to subvert the primacy of the European perspective” in recounting this history, says Kalia Brooks Nelson, the show’s curator.”

More here.

Position Announcement: Associate Curator, American Wing, Metropolitan Museum of Art

About the American Wing

Established in 1924, the American Wing is the only western collecting area of The Met’s seventeen curatorial departments to regularly blend so-called fine and decorative arts in our more than 75 galleries. With a collection of African American, Euro American, Latin American, and Native American art—representing roughly 20,000 objects and ranging primarily from the mid- 17th to early-20th century—the Wing is one of the largest and most comprehensive holdings of North American artistic expression in the world. These collections include paintings, sculpture, drawings, and decorative arts (furniture, textiles, regalia, ceramics, basketry, glass, silver, metalwork, jewelry), as well as historic interiors and architectural fragments, produced by highly trained and self-taught artists, both identified and unrecorded. An active department with a curatorial staff of 13, the Wing regularly programs diverse exhibitions and installations that bring fresh approaches to our wide-ranging material.

General Statement of Duties and Responsibilities:

In Fall 2018, the American Wing debuted the first major display of historical Indigenous American art to be held in its galleries—Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection. In conjunction with that significant installation of outright and promised gifts as well as long-term loans, the Wing is inaugurating a new Native arts program. This position represents the Museum’s first full-time appointment of a curator for this rich and complex material. The Associate Curator of Native North American Art will lay the groundwork and set the tone for this transformational moment in The Met’s history through thoughtful and creative oversight of the Diker Collection as well as other holdings, including the Ralph T. Coe Collection of historical and modern Indigenous American art, along with more recent acquisitions.

The Associate Curator will be responsible for planning and executing exhibitions, installations, and programs in the American Wing, and occasionally work with colleagues in other Museum departments that also hold Native North American material—including Arms and Armor; Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; Drawings and Prints; Modern and Contemporary; and Musical Instruments. Active collaborations with curatorial colleagues in the American Wing—exploring entangled narratives and themes of cross-cultural encounter and exchange between Native and non-Native individuals and communities—are also key to the position.

While the primary focus of the position will be the ongoing study, presentation, and interpretation of the current holdings and the development of long-term partnerships and reciprocity with Indigenous communities, scholars, artists, and audiences in the region and across the continent, there are also opportunities to further grow the collection of historical material through purchase or gift. Maintaining current and cultivating new relationships with collectors, donors, and descendent communities are also critical aspects of the job. The Associate Curator will work closely with The Met’s NAGPRA specialist and the American Wing’s collections manager to ensure provenance is thoroughly researched and the collection is cared for appropriately and sensitively. 


  • Oversee Native North American art in American Wing’s collection as well as promised gifts housed at Museum

  • Plan and oversee regular rotations of Native arts, including selection of work and writing of interpretive didactics

  • Propose and realize special exhibitions, installations, and accompanying publications—in collaboration with range of Museum colleagues—that highlight Native arts in focus and in dialogue with culturally diverse production for regional, national, and international audiences

  • Develop robust collaborations and partnerships with Indigenous community members

  • Working with American Wing collections manager, coordinate visits with tribal cultural heritage representatives, elders, academics, curators, and artists

  • Research, catalogue, and publish collection of Native arts in print and on Museum website with particular attention to provenance research and incorporation of source-community information

  • Assist with growth of Met’s diverse collections of Indigenous North American art, including recommendations for acquisitions, by working with other curators, collectors, and communities

  • Cultivate potential donors, including for departmental support groups

  • Contribute to educational mission of Museum through public lectures, docent training, and mentoring of interns and fellows; outside teaching opportunities are also possible

  • Respond to public inquires about Native arts at Museum

  • Foster and maintain positive working relationships with departmental colleagues across Museum and institutions in the U.S. and abroad as well as with members of scholarly and source communities, dealers, collectors, and other individuals involved with Met

More here.

Funding Opportunity: 2020 Indigenous Community Research Fellowships at the American Philosophical Society Library & Museum

The American Philosophical Society Library & Museum in Philadelphia, PA invites applications for its 2020 Indigenous Community Research Fellowships. These fellowships support research by Indigenous community members, elders, teachers, knowledge keepers, tribal officials, traditional leaders, museum and archive professionals, scholars, and others, regardless of academic background, seeking to examine materials at the APS Library & Museum in support of Indigenous community-based priorities. More information about this opportunity can be found below.

The fellowship may be used by individuals or used to enable a group of researchers to visit the APS in Philadelphia. Any community whose cultural heritage is represented in the APS Library & Museum’s collections is encouraged to apply. University-based scholars and independent researchers working on projects in collaboration with Native communities are also eligible to apply.

Archivists at the APS’s Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR) will assist fellowship recipients with research support before and during the research visit. CNAIR focuses on helping Indigenous communities and scholars to discover and utilize the APS collection in innovative ways. The Collections comprise a vast archive of documentary sources (including manuscript materials, audio recordings, and images) related to over 650 Indigenous cultures, predominantly from the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

The deadline for applications is October 15, 2019. Additional details, budget worksheet and guidelines, and instructions on how to apply may be found on the fellowship website: https://www.amphilsoc.org/grants/indigenous-community-research-fellowships

Call for Participants: Museums of the Vernacular as Porous Sites for Community Collaboration, “Museums Different,” the Second Biennial Conference of the Council for Museum Anthropology  

How do museums with vernacular collections offer opportunities for visitors and communities to collaborate in “making sense” of their exhibitions? How do these spaces establish “connection points” through an array of the potentially mundane? (The “Oh, I have one of those, or my parents did” moments where barriers between museum practice and the visiting community may become productively porous.)

Vernacular museums sometimes emphasize non-heroic exhibition design (rather than a single object indicating an unseen array, a multitude of similar objects are shown). This further offers the museum as a collaborative, “sense-making” space because it is an approachable space.


John Bodinger de Uriarte

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Susquehanna University

Those interested in participating can contact me through my email address: bodinger@susqu.edu.