Our co-curation gallery has been updated for 2019. The Museum’s Filipino-American community has chosen a new selection of materials for the Philippines case, including tattoo-related implements and an example of the Tagbanwa writing system. Both traditional tattooing and this writing system are experiencing something of a modern resurgence; our co-curators wanted to connect historical objects with contemporary interests in the Philippines.
Visitors can also see the second of our contemporary Fijian barkcloth wedding dresses (the other occupied this space last year.) Purchased by collections manager Chris Philipp in 2015, both dresses were made by Mere K. Morris, a dressmaker in Suva, Fiji. The barkcloth, known as masi, is stencilled with traditional designs on a contemporary style dress.
Distance can sometimes be a challenge in our efforts to collaborate with our partners in the Pacific, but exhibitions developer Ryan Schussler managed to work with a group of Kiribati and Kiribati-Americans via Facebook on our first co-curated Kiribati case. Ryan shared photos of the collection and asked a few questions of the Facebook group, who then discussed and made decisions about how they wished to represent their islands in the Field Museum. The case features everyday objects from Kiribati life in the 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as coconut fiber armor and a shark tooth trident meant for combat. The labels, and [coming soon] digital rails contain information and thoughts from our Kiribati co-curators.
In November of 2018, collections manager Chris Philipp and collections center director Christine Gianonni traveled to Aotearoa to visit the whanau, or extended family, of Ruatepupuke II. Discussions focused on the understanding, or Friendship Agreement, between our institution in Chicago and the community in Tokomaru Bay. The agreement will help articulate the commitment that the Museum and the community have made regarding the spiritual and physical care of the house.
Through this agreement, we hope to make some positive changes to the marae surrounding the house and enhance visitors’ understanding and experience of the space and its meaning. Following the whanau's recommendation, Museum staff will install a koha, or gift, given to the house, with label text written by the community in the coming months.
The Museum’s Filipino-American co-curators also sent a gift of Filipino cookbooks to the people of Tokomaru Bay. The Fil-Am community, among others, often use Ruatepupuke and the marae for community events; this gift was a small “thank you” to the family for the use of the space.
Via the Field Museum Facebook:
“Recently the Māori All Blacks flew in from New Zealand for Rugby Day at Soldier Field. Before the big game, they performed a private jersey presentation ceremony in Ruatepupuke, the Māori Meeting House on the Museum's second floor. As part of the preparation for the visit Luke Crawford, Kaumātua Māori (Māori Cultural Advisor) for the All Blacks, performed karakia—a ceremony to help maintain the spiritual value of the house—and gave a gift of paua abalone shells for use in the continued conservation of the distinctive eyes on the carved ancestor panels.
Our staff are honored to make frequent visits to New Zealand to consult with Māori elders and community advisers with whom the Field co-manages the house—one of only three such Māori meeting houses outside of New Zealand.”