Putting Joseph Towles’ name in the credit line
Dear Jacklyn, thanks so much for your presentation and acknowledgement of Joseph Towles. It was very moving to me and a good call to action. I very much appreciated how you positioned yourself being a white person and within the tension of your limitations and ethical obligations. I can very much relate to this struggle and your way of framing it really resonated with me. I was wondering about if you know the Research Center for Material Culture situated at the National Museum of World Cultures in the Netherlands (probably you do), I am very lucky to be there at the moment and witness that this is a place where they also try to fight institutional racism from within the institution. Maybe this is also interesting for you...
Thank you so much for sharing your rich research and using your curatorial skills in the presentation! I really enjoyed and learned. I was curious if are planning on an exhibition on Jo. If so, how would be your approach different? and how/where would you frame him?
I must echo the above compliments of and gratitude for your rich, nuanced, and thoughtful presentation.
I wanted to join the conversation around Jona's question about institutional self-critique and transparency. Jona, I very much enjoyed your presentation in Panel 1, and plan to respond to it in that forum. (Like Jacklyn, I work at AMNH.) I think there is a world of research in analysis of the "meta" exhibit. I am particularly interested in how such exhibitions emerge, the circumstances in which they are developed, and the narratives they tell and do not tell.
I think, as you suggest, Jona, that these exhibits often only address issues that are already visible or in the public eye. I am certain there are examples where this is not the case, but it seems to me, in my knowledge of the field, that institutional behemoths with dated, problematic collections or exhibits often strive to protect their institutional image (and donors) more than push the boundaries of critique and what is known. Again, while I am certain there are exceptions, I think we have seen smaller institutions are often at the forefront of pushing the narrative toward difficult truth-telling.
@corrieroe Corrie, thank you!
I agree, it seems that the larger an institution is, the more weighs its structure, the politics, the negotiation with different stakeholders. I wonder whether there is a difference owing the different funding models, in Germany, museums are much less reliant on donors, in theory this should make things easier, but, as has come up elsewhere: always a question of how serious an institution is about reflexions and actual self-critique…
An interesting example is "Zurückgeschaut": since 2017, the exhibit is part of the permanent exhibition at a (very) small local museum in Berlin-Treptow, addresses as one of the first museums, if not the first, the 'Erste Deutsche Kolonialausstellung' that took place as part of the Berliner Gewerbeschau in 1896 and its lasting legacies. (This is a review https://pocolit.com/en/2020/08/03/europe-and-the-postcolonial-visiting-the-treptow-museum/ -- the show has its own website, but it comes with an error-note ( http://zurueckgeschaut.de/ )
An important, devastating exhibition, but another dimension of visibility here, the museum is so tucked away, that few visitors will just chance upon the exhibit…