Collecting Art and Artifacts in Angola: Objects, Colonialism, and the Ethnology Museum of Portugal
Sonia Silva (Skidmore College)
Paper short abstract:
In 1971, Oliveira and Pereira, both curators at the Ethnology Museum of Portugal, assembled a collection in Angola. By valuing art over artifact, they inserted their collection in a network of colonial institutions and ideas, and complicated the relation between objects, colonialism, and museums.
Paper long abstract:
In 1971, at the peak of Portuguese colonialism, Ernesto Veiga de Oliveira and Benjamin Pereira, both curators at the Ethnology Museum of Portugal, traveled to the Portuguese colony of Angola. Their goal was to acquire a small but rich collection of Angolan objects from different provinces, and to visit the Angolan museums that held similar objects in their collections and displays. In my paper, I show that these anthropology curators valued "art" over "artifact." By reframing the identity of those objects as art and artifact at the point of their acquisition in Angola, Veiga de Oliveira and Benjamin Pereira both inserted those objects in a network of colonial institutions and ideas and complicated the relation between objects, colonialism, and anthropology museums.
Reconnecting African art and artefacts