Making the Museum

Within the databases of the PRM there are some 12,200 records with named makers from across the globe and 20,200 records with named individuals in photographs. Many of these have some documentation connected with them, telling us something of the circumstances of their lives and activities at the time at which they helped shape the Museum’s collections. Making the Museum seeks to gather information on the people named, as well as their objects, images, and activities, so that we can understand their global distribution and cumulative effect. Museums are made and remade. Understanding makers world-wide will allow the PRM to connect again with the agents of its shaping, inviting their descendants into the Museum as active participants in reshaping the collections, their presentation and research. History is important, but only to the extent that it helps us shape the present and future in ways that engage the greatest number to help rethink and reshape colonial histories and contemporary cultural identities in the healthiest possible way in the future. By building on the notion that the ethnographic museum is a “community” of agentive objects, Making the Museum will build on recent work in the social sciences to decentre Western networks and to refocus research attention on the submerged histories of the individuals and communities who made the collections.

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