Curating the Contemporary: Working with Art and Artists at the Pitt Rivers Museum

Saturday 20 May, 11.00 - 15.30

Should 'contemporary art' be displayed in an ethnographic museum like the Pitt Rivers? Can a Victorian museum building, containing tens of thousands of objects from communities all over the world, be construed as a contemporary art space? How can working with contemporary art and artists reconfigure or even challenge the histories of a place like the Pitt Rivers Museum? Join us for a day devoted to exploring these questions and thinking about how concepts and methods from the contemporary art world might be incorporated into museums of anthropology and vice versa.

We present a series of 20 minute pop-up talks by curators and academics who have worked with contemporary artists and artworks in the museum. Speakers will 'pop up' in various locations around the museum, often right next to the cases, temporary installations and exhibitions currently on display. Come along and be part of the conversation!

Black and white image of person wearing a white shirt holding a photograph of a man's face in front of their own face.


11.00 - 11.30  But is it ethnographic? Curating Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art in the Pitt Rivers Museum

 Chris Morton, Pitt Rivers Museum.

Location: Clore Balcony cases and screen




Mariana Castillo Deball installation

11.45 - 12.15  Rustling the Archive: Curating Contemporary Art with the Pitt Rivers Museum (CANCELLED DUE TO UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES)





Phyllida Barlow artwork

12.30 - 13.00  Items Said to be Artworks 

Chris Dorsett, Professor Emeritus, University of Newcastle.

Location: Clore Balcony screen



A large wooden mask with a face and the base and carved details included figures above.

13.30 - 14.00  Curating the 'Unmasked' exhibition and Zina Saro-Wiwa's 'Bad Boys & Broken Hearts' installation

 David Pratten, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography.

Location: Temporary exhibition space and Long Gallery



Close up of Oki playing the commissioned tonkori

14.15 - 14.45  The Art of Storytelling: Re-thinking Museum interpretation through Contemporary Works

 Marenka Thompson-Odlum, Pitt Rivers Museum.

Location: First floor cases



marina abramovic thewitchladder installation

15.00 - 15.30  "The Objects Chose Me": Marina Abramovic at the Pitt Rivers Museum

Clare Harris, Pitt Rivers Museum & School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography.

Location: Abramovic installation