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The Conservator's Compass: Navigating a more collaborative future for the care of object's of Indigenous patrimony

  • Author(s): Talamantes, Nicole Marie Loya
  • Advisor(s): Pearlstein, Ellen
  • et al.

Museums as institutions of education have long stood as the absolute authorities on the protection, interpretation, and representation of Indigenous peoples' cultural materials within museum collections, despite the continued assertions of the communities from which those materials originated. Conservators working within museums have historically focused specifically on the physical preservation of these materials with little input from source communities. In recent years and with the passage of important legislation and international attention there has been a growing recognition that collaboration with Indigenous source communities is important and necessary to the proper care of these materials. However there are a number of obstacles to truly collaborative partnerships and a shortage of published information on the subject. This paper seeks, through interviews with museum professionals and a review of available literature including conference papers, articles, and exhibition publications, to ascertain the current state of collaboration in museum conservation. In conducting the research it was found that the level of collaboration currently being practiced in museums has increased dramatically in the last twenty years and shows impressive potential, but there are many shortcomings that still must be addressed.

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