In the News: Museums Respond to Requests for Object Repatriation

Last week Marabou posted about colonial language shaping the way people understand African history and culture at the British Museum. Last Friday, coordinated actions by Decolonize This Place at The Brooklyn Museum and at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) asked for accountability and repatriation of African objects. As people demand museums acknowledge and rectify historical transgressions, how are institutions responding? In the News: Museums Respond to Requests for Object Repatriation

Seen in The New Yorker

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“Now we’re leaving the hall of stuff we stole from other cultures and entering the hall of stuff we paid too much for.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ A black, white, and grey cartoon depicts an adult guide leading 6 children through a museum’s galleries. The gallery on the left looks like it’s displaying objects from Native American and First Nations Northwest Coast cultures, 3 masks and a textile or mantle. On the right is a gallery of framed paintings. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #Repost @newyorkercartoons ・・・ A cartoon by @caitlin.cass, from 2018. #TNYcartoons ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🌈Shoutout to @ricebananas and @ytunaomitambien for knowing this cartoon is very Marabou ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #marabouatthemuseum #museums #museumeducation #museumstudies #museumtour #rethinkmuseums #reimaginemuseums #repatriation #uncomfortabletruths #newyorker #newyorkermagazine #newyorkercartoons

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Seen in The New Yorker

Categorizing at the Museum

Marabou wonders, can hierarchies of value be challenged or completely shattered if museums reconsider their methods of categorization? Why not tell the story of Africa, the entire continent, in one hall? Why not include all American objects in “The American Wing”?

How might we think differently about history when all the objects of a geographic location are together? When these objects share space, how might the narrative they create challenge the stories that are currently perpetuated?

met museum_categorizing_curatorial choices
Marabou looking at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s first floor & mezzanine map and thinking about the physical and curatorial distances among objects that come from the same geographical areas.

Categorizing at the Museum