Monday, February 24, 2014

Photos from the SMCC Field Trip

As some of you know, I asked Jena to take a few cell phone photos during the workshop portion of our field trip to the State Museum Collections Center. Today she gained approval for me to post them to our course blog and sent them on to me (thanks Jena!).  I am especially happy to have some photos of Carrie leading the workshop. I was truly impressed by her knowledge. 


Thanks again to Carrie, Denise and Jena!
In case I forgot to introduce her, that is Margaret (a Public History Masters student), on Jena's right.

Friday, February 21, 2014

"Your Bejeweled Smartphone Case May Be in the Field Museum Someday"

Loved the field trip to SMCC. Thank you Carrie, Jena and Denise. Jena is going to see if we can get approval to post the photographs. Meanwhile here is a story about collecting the contemporary. Check out that repository. 

And don't forget this opportunity! I'll be there on tomorrow (Saturday). This is a fantastic show and opportunity to learn about ethnographic art and to see and buy the work of contemporary indigenous artists. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Life in Museums

If you are a member of the Sacramento Anthropological Society, our student club, and you follow the SAS Facebook page, you'll already know that I am a big  (BIG) fan of Emily Graslie, whose vlog series The Brain Scoop is shot on location in the Field Museum in Chicago (a fabulous, old and favorite museum of mine). I wanted to share this particular video with you because I think it will help you to appreciate the kind of sensibility it takes to work in and dedicate one's life to a museum and collection, and to see that "museum people" come to this professional milieu, almost like a "vocation" or "calling," from all kinds of educational backgrounds and majors. Watch to the end to learn how Emily found her way to the museum world. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Your Accessions Numbers

Some of you haven't posted the numbers you drew. This was supposed to be done by Tuesday so don't delay in getting those up. Remember, as well, to finish out your blogroll. All the course blogs are now linked (on the right), so you can easily scoop up the URL for all your classmates' blogs. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Scary and entirely unethical

This sort of behavior will frighten potential donors and jeopardize future acquisitions. The term "Museum" carries meaning, ethical considerations, and legal obligations. There are many operations that function somewhere in the shadowy interstices between true (autonomously governed, non-profit) museums/galleries and something else (a university department and collection in this instance). They typically accept gifts of art or artifacts that donors inevitably imagine are going to be subject to the fiduciary rules and ethical obligations of museums, and yet this is often not the case where donations are concernd, as these entities are typically controlled by individuals who have no professional museum training and/or no autonomy to invoke their training. And they often must answer to a supervisor in another division who has no knowledge of and/or respect for museum ethics and practices. These entities often want the cache of a museum operation to support their academic curricula, prestige and fund-raising capabilities, but rarely want to support those operations with the necessary resources and independent governance. What do our readings for this week have to say about the appropriation of monies from the sale of accessioned work(s)?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Tales from the Art Institute of Chicago

We haven't progressed far enough in our readings for you to have a full appreciation of this article, but it is still worth reading. Very funny and an accurate portrait of the museum registrar and/or collection manager's life.

Friday, February 7, 2014

And the unveiling continues...

Museum lab hours ran really late yesterday. Eight students dropped in to see what objects they had drawn. After two or three trips up to the repository loft (where I diligently warned students not to crack their skulls against the I-beam but then proceeded to do it myself) and texting Carrie at State Parks to decode some of her temporary locations, we can now see the bulk of the collection. You'll have to forgive the poor lighting and resolution in these iphone pics (not to mention the color on the gallery walls), I'll bring in my DSLR one of these days (which is not to say that the photos will be great).

Reece drew quite an assortment of objects,
including a dagger (w/snake) and lyre-bird
 feathers (the V&A would be jealous).
Maria's pieces run the gamut from the Taj
Mahal broach and beaded staff  in the photo
(below) to basket trays (foreground above) and
 a beautifully-woven ivory-handled fan I've
admired for a long while.


Among the objects drawn by Cristian is a
lauhala mat. It is probably the most fragile
and desiccated piece in the collection.


Abby examines a ceramic pipe bowl.
She also drew a natural history specimen:
throat teeth from some fish species that
must be native to the South Seas/Samoa.

Mallory with a bamboo-handled spear, a
folding (souvenir) sun shade, and
two clubs (see below).


Can you read the lettering? I was surprised to
discover its provenience (but it makes sense
given what we know about Mrs. Beardlsey).


Seya inspects an artifact she'll be researching:
a tiny metal dagger and scabbard. The piece
below is also hers (beautiful in person).


Nathan drew four objects, one of which I am
REALLY excited about, as I think it may relate
to a publication of Mrs. Beardsley's (Carrie
and I will let him figure that out after her
Tuesday lecture).

Jim drew five objects...a very brittle tapa cloth,
a set of fans, a Satsuma jar, two spear points
(although I wonder if these are mis-attributed),
two books (most in the collection were
apparently de-accessioned), and a fun
set of tapa/bark cloth "samples."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Assignment of Objects

Yesterday everyone drew a series of slips marked with the accession and item-level numbers for the Beardsley artifacts and specimens that they will be researching. Afterwards, David, Holly, Nancy, and Jessica accompanied me and Carrie to the Museum, where they were able to get a first glimpse at the objects they'll be working with (we look forward to the rest of you stopping by during open lab hours).

David removes the basting stitches on the protective
 covering to reveal the skirt below. 

Carrie helps Nancy,  Holly and Jessica retrieve
 their objects from the repository. 
More objects, and a glimpse into the diversity of the
collection (the grid is a ceiling light reflection).

Monday, February 3, 2014

"Museum's Super Bowl bet shows pitfalls that come with Native art"

This story in today's LA Times offers some valuable insights into the importance of building and maintaining respectful relationships with the Native American nations and other "source communities" from which one's permanent collection is drawn.