The impact of access: Partnerships in preservation

Ainslie Harrison, Kelly McHugh, Chuna McIntyre, and Landis Smith

Abstract

Over the last several decades, increased access to collections and museums has opened the possibility for long-term relationships with Native consultants. These ongoing partnerships encourage a true dialog, thus allowing us to better preserve both the tangible and intangible aspects of museum objects. Such a partnership has developed between Yup’ik artist Chuna McIntyre and conservators at the Smithsonian Institution. Mr. McIntyre’s working relationship with Smithsonian conservators began in 2007 with the joint National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) and National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) Anchorage Project consultations and continued in a number of other projects, including the restoration of a Yup’ik mask for the NMAI Infinity of Nations exhibit and NMNH Arctic Studies Center Recovering Voices programs. The focus of these collaborations involved comprehensive documentation (including traditional knowledge and language preservation), treatment decisions, and restorations. The mutual trust and respect fostered by the well-established partners hip with Mr. McIntyre aided in each of these projects by ensuring that all perspectives were considered in the decision-making and treatment process.

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