Ellipses in indigenous content and meaning of the collections were also noted early on. Ames was a stalwart supporter of decolonizing museums and returning the voice of interpretation to First Nation and other originating communities. His passion was not shared by all his colleagues Ames 46; Kisin Moreover his political agenda sometimes conflicted with that of the archaeologists in the Anthropology Department concerned over professional issues and academic standards Kisin Written in the Earth opened and From Under the Delta opened provoked significant disagreements on the comparative value of scholarly and community knowledge and brought to the fore differences over the ascription of authoritative references, differences in political agendas, differences in timetabling, and differences over concept design.
The two exhibitions generated their own circumspect literature Holm and Pokotylo ; Ames ; Philips and Johnson ; Kisin , but some points of view remain to be heard. Well Known Traditions of Tahltan Peoples Such discussions are signs of a vital and committed institution and as Ames opined:. There is more to museums than cannibalistic appetites, glass box display cases, and ideology production.
What some call appropriation, others see as inspiration; while some view glass boxes as a form of cultural imprisonment, others see them as a way of preserving heritage for future generations; and what some call the channeling of consciousness, others term consciousness-raising 4. Part of the problem may have been at one level that museums and cultural centers were once too dissimilar for valid comparison.
Gloria Cranmer Webster claimed no non-native considerations were taken into account when planning cultural centres Mithlo It is this reconciliatory project that gives MOA its unique local, provincial, national and international position, as a nexus of diverse spaces and geographies both within and external to Canada. This museum is a living museum.
In a way, it is a house of spirits. Behind the masks, the totems, the ceremonial robes stand the spirits of the human beings who made them. Until we can sense the presence of these spirits and feel the human bond between these people, and ourselves these objects and the people who made them will remain dead. And until they are alive to us, their living children cannot be truly alive for us. Like the exhibitions, this reconciliation was phrased in the narrative of discovery.
In the same speech Kenny emphasized:. So I ask you to consider this museum as a place of discovery. Many things are there to discover. We can discover the thousand beauties left to us by people who lived before us in this beautiful land. We can discover a better understanding of another culture, another way of life.
Most of all, if we can learn to see not only the objects, but the spirits dwelling in this house, we can discover a part of ourselves. This humanistic turn was consistent with more general cultural reconfigurations of the notion of Canadian nationhood. In the 17 th General Assembly of ICOM held in Quebec formally endorsed the concept of museums having no boundaries except those that are established by people and encouraged the dissolution of the barriers between them and their communities. MOA is a local museum, but one whose roots have been so deeply implanted in the city and the Province that it is more strongly anchored than most.
But it also depends on and contributes to and sometimes contests provincial, national and regional politics and cultural policies.
Its exhibitions and programs can be read differently at both the local, regional and international levels. Localisms have a potentially radical charge that can change global presuppositions and patterns of thought. Creativity may sometimes be local, but more often than not it comes from the encounter between the local and another local, national or global condition or representation. It includes the use of First Nation names, imagery and arts in malls, public spaces, private galleries and street names cf. Meuly Furthermore, even when an organization is not publicly open, as was the case of the Kwagiulth Museum, the community does not necessarily consider it closed.
British Columbia not only articulates a web of local, regional and international museum connections, whose leaning to one or other geographical locative may vary over time and depend on external development, but as Michael Ames liked to think, it may also be constituted as a palimpsest, an institutional equivalent of a document on which the tracings of other documents, or institutions, can be evidenced superimposed on the original.
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