Artifacts of Collaboration at the National Museum of the American Indian

Jennifer Shannon


Contemporary museum anthropology is collaborative anthropology. Illustrated through the case study of the National Museum of the American Indian’s process of community curating for its inaugural exhibitions, this account provides a window into the everyday practice of collaborative anthropology in museum practice through ethnographic attention to an exhibition in the making. Artifacts that are not from the collection come to the fore – artifacts of collaboration, like text panels, which signify Native voice. An attention to authorship reveals the process of collaboration between museum curators and Native community members developing the Our Lives gallery, including how exhibition contributors imagined their audiences differently and experienced the challenges and rewards of mediating (self)representations of contemporary Native identity for public consumption.


Museum Anthropology; Collaboration; National Museum of the American Indian; Kalinago

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