Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Pitt Rivers Museum, torchlight, dancing--and a challenge


Conference visitors exploring the Pitt Rivers Museum by torchlight...


Last weekend's conference on 'The future of the ethnographic museum' was intense, stimulating--and quite a lot of fun! While, as Michael O'Hanlon noted in his opening remarks, it did seem somewhat of a contradiction to be holding a conference of that title in the Pitt Rivers Museum, I think that the Museum and its staff demonstrated that we have a vibrant way of being an ethnographic museum now, and are leading the way for the future. On Saturday night, conference delegates from all over the world were given torches (flashlights to some of you) and wandered around the darkened displays exploring for themselves, before Jon Eccles' fantastic light show started. Music using the Museum's sound collections dj-ed by Noel Lobley, Nathaniel Mann's live performance, and Rupert Gill's enthusiastic DJ set (which ended in a Bollywood version of an Abba track, and got the the delegates doing a conga line through the Museum displays...) made for an amazing evening.

And then there was Wayne Modest's exhortation that ethnographic museums should actually address the assumptions behind racism...food for thought indeed, and a reminder that what we do may be fun, but it matters.

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