Our (museum) world turned upside down: Re-presenting Native American arts
THE VAST MAJORITY of Native American objects in private and public collections are the legacy of the high period of colonialism that lasted from about 1830 to 1930 (which corresponds closely with what Sturtevant (1969) called ‘The Museum Age’). In the subfield of art history devoted to the arts of Native North America, the most urgent issues surrounding the collecting and display of these objects arise directly from the imperialist histories of their formation. Prodded by Native American activists and academic theorists, historians and curators of Native American art are today rethinking the most fundamental questions: Who has the right to control American Indian objects, many of which are thought by their makers not to be art objects but instruments of power? Who has access to knowledge (even simply the knowledge gained from gazing upon an object of power), only those who have been initiated, or all who pass through the doors of a cultural institution? Who has the right to say what the objects mean, and whether and how they are displayed? And how will Native Americans, as they assume increasingly authoritative roles in museum representation, remake the museum as an institution?.
Berlo, J.C. (Janet Catherine), & Phillips, R. (2007). Our (museum) world turned upside down: Re-presenting Native American arts. In Museums in the Material World (pp. 118–126). doi:10.4324/9780203946855-20