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Saturday, May 31 • 10:00am - 10:30am
(Objects Session) Collaborative study and preservation of coastal Alaskan Native material culture with university students, museum staff, Alutiiq scholars and artists, and the visiting public

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In 2010, the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository in Kodiak, AK and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Cambridge MA began a jointly conceived grant project to conserve Alaska Native ethnographic items. During an earlier project which involved NAGPRA implementation, Alutiiq representatives and Museum staff identified the potential for collaboration in the care and treatment of significant and threatened Alaska Native items. This presentation will share some of the challenges and solutions. For example, overcoming the physical distance of the two cultural institutions, finding fiscally sound approaches to ensure public-accessibility to project activities, and integrating academic learning opportunities with the projects methods and theoretical framework . The project was shaped to include two on-site visits with Alutiiq consultants and frequent electronic communications through Skype sessions. Through a seminar course, University students interacted and explored new ways of learning through a variety of avenues: class lectures, research into historical and contemporary anthropological museum studies, readings and discussions on ethics of museum stewardship and one-on-one exchanges with Alutiiq consultants. Students researched donor and collection histories of objects, participated in indigenous technology hands-on workshops as well as conservation presentations and practicums on collections care issues, documentation and materials research. Native Alaska consultants were likewise involved in their local Alaska communities in sharing resources and knowledge from the developing study of the Alutiiq collections and this was reflected back in their involvement at the Peabody Museum.

A working space within an exhibition gallery was designed to serve multiple purposes three afternoons each week for two years, conducive for student classes and exchange with consultants, professors, museum staff and with the visiting public. Students’ object-based research papers were developed and shaped by interactions with all participating constituents. Conservation methods were likewise directed in new ways through available perspectives of the Alutiiq consultants, analytical results from approved material sampling and by the students’ research papers. Project flexibility ensured ongoing sharing between and with Peabody conservators and Alutiiq colleagues about respectful preservation and conservation approaches. Conservation stabilizations and treatments of kayaks and kayak-related objects were collaborations with our colleagues. Conservators collaborated to implement goals of the Alutiiq colleagues to better characterize or identify wood, plant, hair and skin materials. Some of the resulting and ongoing connections could not have been envisioned at the outset especially as regards analytical research results. Strengthening technical investigation of cultural material through broad inclusivity across physical, structural and cultural differences has achieved greater synthesis creating a framework for focusing resources and perspectives for continuing collaborations. The project and ongoing partnership has created a process of collaboration that continues to serve our communities and mutual goals as educational and research institutions.

avatar for T Rose Holdcraft-[Fellow]

T Rose Holdcraft-[Fellow]

Senior Conservator and Head of Conservation, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University
T. Rose Holdcraft (Fellow, American Institute for Conservation; Graduate Certificate, Special Studies in Administration and Management, Harvard University; M.A., Art History, University of Cincinnati) is head conservator at the Peabody Museum since 1992. She has been a conservation... Read More →

avatar for Ellen Promise

Ellen Promise

Conservator, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Ellen Promise (MS, Art Conservation, Winterthur/University of Delaware, 2012) was a third-year conservation intern at the Peabody Museum in 2012 and conservation assistant in 2013 focusing on MALDI analysis (peptide mass fingerprinting). She is currently a Samuel H Kress Conservation... Read More →
avatar for Fran Ritchie

Fran Ritchie

Conservation Fellow, National Museum of the American Indian
Fran Ritchie is a 2013 graduate of the Buffalo State College program in Art Conservation. She is the current Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in objects conservation at the National Museum of the American Indian. Her past experiences working in natural history collections cultivated an interest... Read More →
avatar for Judy Jungels

Judy Jungels

Conservator, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University
Judy Jungels, (MA, CAS, Art Conservation, State University College at Buffalo; MFA, SUNY Buffalo; BFA, Alfred University) joined the Peabody Museum in 2005 and currently serves in the position of Conservator. Prior to working at the Museum, she held a position at SUNY Buffalo in the... Read More →

Patricia Capone

Associate Curator, Peabody Museum

Sven Haakanson

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology; Curator of Native American Collections, University of Washington-Seattle; Burke Museum

Saturday May 31, 2014 10:00am - 10:30am PDT
Grand Ballroom B