North America

National Museum of African American History and Culture Marches Toward Fall 2015 Opening

Washington Post: Lonnae O'Neal Parker, October 4, 2013

Lonnie G. Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, has had the same motto for much of the past decade. “Of course it’s going to happen,” he says when questioned about the opening, the progress or pretty much anything connected with the under-construction museum set to open in fall 2015.

“As much as I knew how complicated this was going to be — building on the site, getting staff — it’s 10 times more complicated than I ever imagined,” Bunch says.

Bunch, who says there’s not a U.S. airport he hasn’t touched down at in the past two years, credits Smithsonian support and random well-wishes from the public for helping to keep him going. It’s been a faith walk he says — a belief in the African American ability to improvise, to be strategic and nimble. “I really do believe there are a whole lot of ancestors helping to make this happen,” Bunch says.

More here.

Culture wars - American Indian Cultural Center & Museum

Amid some opposition, American Indian Cultural Center & Museum officials hope donors remain loyal to the uncompleted venue.

Supporters of the half-built American Indian Cultural Center & Museum (AICCM) were days away from receiving $40 million in state funds this state legislative session when a deadly tornado ripped through south Oklahoma City and Moore.

The money would have sealed the completion of the project, which originated 18 years ago as a concept for advancing Oklahoma’s Native American culture. Having faced numerous hurdles before, museum supporters advised legislative leaders to delay action and focus attention on the tornado victims.

...Four days before the tornado hit, Senate and House budget committee members signed off on Senate Bill 1132, a funding measure that would divert a percentage of the state’s use tax to the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority (NACEA) over a three-year period beginning in 2015. NACEA, a state agency created by state lawmakers in 1994, has direct oversight of the AICCM project.

....Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, author of SB 1132, said he believes the measure will pass the House and Senate next session by slim margins, due to regional politics between urban and rural legislators. “We need to finish it and finish it properly,” he said. “We’re paying millions of bond debt and getting nothing in return now.”

More here.

Almost Done - The Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art has re-opened three galleries in its North Wing, marking the second-to-last "mile-stone" in the institution's eight-year expansion and renovation project. The sprawling $350-million project will finish this December with the unveiling of the West Wing. In the meantime, the northern galleries offer visitors centuries of artful objects from civilizations too often overlooked by curators.

The North Wing can be divided roughly into three sections: Native American, Islamic, and Japanese and Korean art.

More here.

Mitchell Museum to unveil updated gallery of notable American Indians

The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston is preparing to unveil the third and newest edition of its ongoing exhibit spotlighting notable and successful American Indians of the present and past.
Organized by the Mitchell, “Did You Know They’re Native III?” will open Saturday, July 27, at the museum, 3001 Central St. The exhibit, updated periodically with a new roster of honorees, first opened in July 2011.

More here.

Detroit tells Christie’s auction house: Go home

Financially distraught Detroit is determined to keep hold of its historic artifacts, and art critics in the city are telling buyers with New York-based auction house Christie‘s: Go home. There’s nothing to see here.

Experts with the auction house have been seen at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Free Press reported. The DIA is home to some of the city’s most valuable assets, including the original Howdy Doody marionette. And some concerned about the city’s financial future see the museum as a cash cow to bridge budget deficits, estimated now at $18 billion, and satisfy terms of the bankruptcy.

City officials, however, as well as art lovers, say that plan’s a no-go.

More here.

Op-Ed: UC and Native Americans: Unsettled remains

UC campuses have been too slow in returning Native American bones and artifacts.

In 1974, Berkeley's distinguished anthropologist Robert Heizer issued a public mea culpa for the practices of his profession in treating "California Indians as though they were objects." In particular, he apologized for the "continued digging up of the graves of their ancestors."

In 1999, the department of anthropology at Berkeley issued an apology to the cultural descendants of Ishi, a Yahi native, for sending his brain to the Smithsonian after his death in 1916. "We regret our department's role in what happened to Ishi, a man who had already lost all that was dear to him."

This was a good beginning to a journey of accountability and reconciliation. But since then, the University of California has been largely silent about its role as the legal owner of a vast collection of native remains stashed in basements in campuses throughout the state. It owes at the very least 10,000 more apologies.

More at the Los Angeles Times here.

Some MU faculty upset about plan to move museum

Many MU faculty members are upset at how they found about the University’s plan to temporarily close some campus buildings next year for renovations. They're also concerned about the future of the Museum of Art & Archeology and the Museum of Anthropology.

More here

The University of Missouri announced today that all employees working in MU's main administrative building, Jesse Hall, will be moved to a new location to allow for the installation of sprinkler systems, improvements to the heating and cooling systems, and an additional elevator. Nearby Swallow Hall which houses MU's Museum of Anthropology, will also undergo repairs including an increase in classroom, lab and office space totaling up to 5,000 square feet.  The project, called "Renew Mizzou," will cost more than $22.8 million.

More here.

Op Ed: Bring ethno-cultural halls back to the Canadian Museum of Civilization

Re: Renamed museum plan 'deeply worrying,' June 6.

How right he is when the former CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Victor Rabinovitch says that the new mandate for the proposed Canadian Museum of History is "narrow and parochial" and "deeply worrying."

George MacDonald, the founding director of the Canadian Museum of Civilization (1983 to 1998), is also right when he says the changes are "a stab in the back" to ethno-cultural communities that have donated many outstanding objects to the museum on the understanding that they would be on permanent display, only to see them removed.

More here.

Oklahoma Senate unveils $80M plan for 2 new museums

Okla. Senate unveils $80M plan for 2 new museums

The Oklahoma Senate unveiled a new plan on Thursday to divert $80 million in state sales and use taxes over a four-year period to pay for the completion of an American Indian museum in Oklahoma City and build a new popular culture museum in Tulsa.

A Senate budget committee approved both measures, which next must be considered by a similar committee in the House, where the proposals are likely to face strong resistance...

More here.

Auction of Hopi Masks Proceeds After Judge’s Ruling

The Hopi artifacts auction makes the New York Times.

A contested auction of sacred Hopi Indian artifacts went forward on Friday in Paris and generated more than $1 million in sales, despite the presence of protesters inside and outside the auction house who urged patrons not to take part.

One featured item, a headdress known as the Crow Mother, drew intense interest. Bidding on this 1880s artifact, which had a high estimate of $80,000, soared to $210,000, drawing applause from a crowd of some 200 people in the sales room and protest from a woman who stood up and shouted: “Don’t purchase that. It is a sacred being.”

Click here to read the entire article.

The National Museum of the American Indian also recently posted a blog article related to the auction on "Respecting Non-Western Sacred Objects."