Accepted Paper:

Appraising collections: understanding institutional values of the Sir William MacGregor collection and their impact  


Chantal Knowles (Queensland Museum)

Paper short abstract:

Museums research, display, acquire and dispose of artefacts through frameworks which determine value and significance. This paper explores the appraisal of a shared collection to choose artefacts for repatriation. Did the value judgements made determine the future trajectory of artefacts?

Paper long abstract:

Through a review of the process of determining which artefacts from the Sir William MacGregor Collection were returned from the Queensland Museum to the National Museum and Art Gallery of Papua New Guinea regimes of value are explored. This paper seeks to understand why certain objects were returned and others left on the shelf and determine how value is influenced at a local level through cultural frameworks and collections strategies. The re-appraisal of the collection and decisions made about disposal and acquisition involved a value judgement predicated on significance, when re-evaluated by an another institution were significance criteria the same?

This case study which documents the subsequent use and consumption of specific artefacts within the museum space allows an examination of whether museum criteria of value resonate amongst museum audiences and the market place. Do these correlate with the value of the objects as determined at their time of collection and if not which artefacts have depreciated or accrued value over time? Does the artefacts association with MacGregor affect value within these multiple spaces? Through documenting the shared and multiple trajectories of MacGregor collection artefacts, historical and contemporary assertions of value are reviewed and the limitations of museum value systems highlighted and challenged.

Panel P100
Collections as Currency? Objects, Exchange, Values and Institutions