Accepted Paper:

Thinking culture first. Challenges in creating object stories for non-western art  

Author:

Kristine Milere (Latvian Academy of Culture)

Paper short abstract:

Museums need to tell culture based stories. It is more difficult with the non-western culture. How to create stories that are culture based and how to give visitors a closeness with non-western culture? Looking at objects through anthropological perspective and thinking culture first is the answer.

Paper long abstract:

In the fast changing times of our global world any museum should give their visitors not only the aesthetic pleasure of seeing an art object, but also an opportunity to gain a comprehensive knowledge about it. Museum needs to tell stories; culture based stories. It is easy for us to understand the western culture and art, but it is more difficult with the non-western culture and art. Foreign Art Department of the Latvian National Museum of Art has one of the largest non-western art collections in the Baltic states. Mostly the objects that are in the collection represent different cultures traditional art. So far this collection has never been fully researched and the display that museum has is an overview without any detailed context or object descriptions. How to create stories that are culture based? How to give our visitors the feeling of closeness with non-western culture? Looking at objects through anthropological perspective and thinking culture first could be the answer. In traditional cultures the art works are created according to the creators environment, religion and inherited traditions. They are connected with their daily life and rituals. Anthropology can help get closer to the meaning of the objects in its culture. The aim of this paper is to show different ways how to use anthropology in creating a display or exhibition of non-western artefacts in art museums. The paper will concentrate on the problems and challenges of non-western object research in the collection of the Latvian National Museum of Art.

Panel P109
Curating with an Anthropological Approach