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Exhibition and representation: stories from the Torres Strait Islanders exhibition

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Cross-cultural collaborative work that goes into the preparation of exhibitions reflects the changing role of museums as places of exchange and research where curatorial expertise and indigenous knowledge meet. Anita Herle, senior assistant curator of the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaelogy and Anthropology concentrates her research on issues of access and representations in museums. She directed the preparations for the centenary exhibition to mark the 1898 Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Strait and in this article emphasizes the importance of analysing exhibitions as processes. She explains how specific objects in the expedition’s collections in the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaelogy and Anthropology continue to be active intermediaries in the relationship between museum staff and the Torres Strait Islanders, and how, as a consequence, the museum has become a fieldsite and a place for encounter and dialogue. This article provides an ethnography of the process of creating the exhibition and explores in different ways the resonance that many of the objects displayed have for Islanders today. A longer version of the article has been published in Ethnos, 2000.
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Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: University of Cambridge Museum of Archaelogy and Anthropology

Publication date: 01 July 2001

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