The National Museum of the Philippines has released a new book, Lumad Mindanao. The book features photos from the Field’s archives, among others. From the National Museum’s website:
This is dedicated to the Lumadnon as another collective indigenous group in the southern Philippines perceptively negotiating and narrating their place in the Filipino society. We hope that this publication will help narrow gaps in accounts written about them and understand their present situation by providing accessible and updated reference material.
The Field Museum hosted Lumad visitors in 2019. Nine Lumad members, representing the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Council of Elders (MIPCEL), explored the Museum’s Philippines collection of 10,000+ items during a tour with Head of Anthropological Collections Jamie Kelly and Collections Assistant Julia Kennedy.
Chicago is fortunate to have been the only United States stop on Bangarra Dance Theatre’s 2019 tour. In preparation for their November 22nd and 23rd performances at the Harris Theater, FM hosted a panel discussion on November 19th between artistic director Steven Page, dancer Elma Kris, and Regenstein Curator John Terrell.
Before and after the talk, attendees were invited to view three specially selected Australian items from the Museum’s collection. Members of Bangarra selected two bark paintings with the help of Will Stubbs of the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre in Yirrkala: Possum Tree Story by Narritjin Maymuru (c. 1916-1981) and Djambuwal, Master of the Storms and His Spear by Larrtjaƞa Ganambarr (1932-2000.) Maymuru and Ganambarr were both artists from Yolngu country, an area that inspired much of Bangarra’s current programming.
The paintings are part of the Louis A. Allen collection. Allen was something of an amateur anthropologist, travelling across Australia with the intent to meet artists and record their stories, while also collecting their work. Allen helped to revive interest in Aboriginal art in Australia with the publication of his book Time Before Morning. He eventually sold much of his collection to the Australian government and 13 pieces came to the Field Museum, of which 12 are bark paintings. They were last exhibited in 1972, when they were donated to the Field.
The third item on display was a shield, likely from Victoria. Museum staff chose this item to represent one of the “mysteries” of the collection, an object with very little information associated with it -- but one we hope community members and researchers may one day fill in the blanks for and help us solve.
In October, Dr. Jonathan Jones (University of Technology, Sydney) visited the Museum to examine Australian material from New South Wales and Victoria. As both an artist and researcher, Jones has a special perspective on museum collections from this region, home to the communities to which he belongs (Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi.)
Dr. Jones explains: “Grounded in Indigenous research methodologies and epistemologies, this research involves each object from a collection being carefully drawn. [This] allows for a greater relationship with the object, a deeper understanding of the shape and design, and an ability to recognise the hand of each maker.” Noting that “Eighteenth and nineteenth century collections of Aboriginal Australian objects...were made at a time when little regard was given to Aboriginal artists or their communities of origin,” Jones aims to begin tackling the problem of poorly provenanced Australian collections from the last centuries.
During his 3-day visit, Dr. Jones was able to examine dozens of shields, clubs, boomerangs and other items. While time did not allow for him to make as many detailed sketches as he would normally prefer, Dr. Jones did photograph a number of items that will enable him to share the collections and his research with a broader audience. Dr. Jones’ report on the collection will also enrich the Field’s documentation as he will be able to add additional geographic and source community information to the record.
Below: Dr. Jonathan Jones measures, sketches, and takes notes about a shield in the Museum’s Collections Resource Center.
Above: Dr. Jonathan Jones measures, sketches, and takes notes about a shield in the Museum's Collections Resource Center.