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What is co-curation?

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.”

Luke Crawford and members of the Maori All Blacks sing on the marae

Photo © JP Brown
Photo © JP Brown

In November of 2018, Dr. John Terrell was a featured panel speaker at a conference for Taiwan’s National Museum of History. The panel, entitled “Professional Exhibition and Interpretation in Museums,” was part of the inaugural conference of the NMH’s new Museum of Archaeology, which opens to the public later this year.

Dr. Terrell discussed the ways in which museum staff must rethink curation of its collections, including co-curation and digital access. The presentation touched on the difficult topic of museums’ colonial origins, and colonial ideas that still abound today.

Guest speakers also had the opportunity to make their own barkcloth using Taiwanese techniques; while barkcloth is widely used across the Pacific today, it is unknown whether the ancient Taiwanese practiced the craft or learned it more recently.

Practitioners of barkcloth making from Dulan, Taiwan teach conference-goers how to make barkcloth starting from raw paper mulberry wood.

In September 2018, the Museum was fortunate to host a group of representatives from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. OHA Community Engagement Director Nicole (Mehana) Mehanaokalā Hind, Kamakana Ferreira (OHA Compliance,) Shane Palacat-Nelsen (OHA Community Outreach - Kona,) and Kahakai’o Ravenscraft (Na Hoa Aloha O Ka Pu’uhonua o Honaunau) joined collections staff to explore the Field’s Hawaiian collections, enrich the Museum’s understanding of its Hawaiian cultural material, and discuss the future of those objects.

(L-R) Kahakai’o Ravenscraft and Shane Palacat-Nelson examine Hawaiian stone axes. Mr. Ravenscraft practices wood carving and was able to identify the purposes of several types of stone tools in the FM collections.

An evening reception to formally welcome the visitors followed. The event on the marae was attended not only by FM staff, but also Filipino-American co-curators and representatives from Chicago's American Indian Center. FM's Community Engagement Coordinator, Debra Yepa-Pappan, greeted the visitors with a native land acknowledgement statement.

Representing Chicago's Hawaiian community were the Executive Director of Aloha Center Chicago, C. Lanialoha Lee and Native Hawaiian Delegate, Ku Kamaeha'o Sumberg of Ke Ali'i Victoria Ka'iulani Hawaiian Civic Club Chicago. Lanialoha and Kamae provided music for the gathering during the reception and dinner.

(L-R) Ku Kamaeha'o Sumberg and C. Lanialoha Lee perform on the veranda of Ruatepupuke II as part of the welcome reception on the marae.

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