Practical aspects of consultation with communities

Jessica S. Johnson, Susan Heald, Kelly McHugh, Elizabeth Brown, and Marian Kaminitz

Abstract

Exhibitions for the new Mall Museum of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian are being prepared through partnerships with representatives from twenty-four native communities. To prepare objects for these exhibits, NMAI’s Conservation Unit carried out conservation consultations with representatives from these communities. These consultations guided the treatments by giving the conservators information about the history, usage, and proper care of the artifacts. This paper addresses the practicalities of how these consultations were organized, conducted and the information recorded. It is our hope that this is the first step in a process that will lead to a more active roll of the Native Communities in the conservation and preservation of their cultural material. The results of this work can be seen in the new museum opening September 21, 2004.

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