Rethinking museum practices: decolonizing collections – Speakers

Conference critical listener

Keyna Eleison

Curator, writer and researcher. Shamanic heiress and ancestral chronicler. Master in History of Art and a specialist in History of Art and Architecture; Bachelor in Philosophy. Member of the African Heritage Commission for the laureating of the Cais do Valongo region as a World Heritage Site (UNESCO). Curator of the 10th SIART International Art Biennale, in Bolivia; and of the publication of the Liverpool Biennale 2020/2021. Currently chronicler of the magazine Contemporary& Latin America, and teacher of the School of Visual Arts of Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro, and Artistic Director of the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro.

Session moderators and speakers

Brandie MacDonald

Brandie Macdonald (she/her) is an Indigenous citizen of the Chickasaw Nation with Choctaw Nation and Scottish ancestry. Brandie’s work focuses on systemic change in museums through the implementation of anti-colonial and decolonial theory-in-practice, which centers truth-telling, accountability, and actionable change to redress colonial harm. Currently, she is the Senior Director of Decolonizing Initiatives at the Museum of Us, located on Kumeyaay Nation territory, USA. Besides her work at the Museum, she is also an active freelance consultant working alongside non-profits, museums, and Indigenous communities internationally. Brandie is enrolled in a Ph.D. program in Education Studies at University of California, San Diego. Her research, which aligns with her work as a practitioner, focuses on the sustainable application of decolonizing praxis in museums that enables transformative change and cross-cultural decolonial movement building. She’s a Salzburg Global Seminar Fellow, an American Alliance of Museums’ Nancy Hanks Award for Professional Excellent recipient, a Smithsonian Affiliate Fellow at the National Museum of the American Indian, and sits on the Western Museums Association board.

Noelle Kahanu

Noelle M.K.Y. Kahanu (Kanaka ʻOiwi/Native Hawaiian) is a fifteen-year veteran of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, HI, where she developed scores of exhibitions and programs. She worked on the renovation of Hawaiian Hall (2009), Pacific Hall (2013), the landmark E Kū Ana Ka Paia exhibition (2010), and more recently has been involved in international repatriations. She has a law degree from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where she currently serves as an associate specialist in Public Humanities and Native Hawaiian Programs within the American Studies Department. Her current research and practice, explores the liberating and generative opportunities when museums “seed” authority rather than “cede” authority.

Mixalhítsa7 Alison Pascal

Alison Pascal-Mixalhítsa7 is of the Lil’wat Nation, she is the Curator at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) in Whistler, BC. Alison’s work tells the history and cultural relevance of their belongings shown at the SLCC of the two founding nations the Sk̲wx̲ú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and the Líl̓wat7ul (Lil̓wat Nation). She graduated the First Nations Tourism Management Co-op Program at Capilano College in 2005, she has been Mentored by both the Conservative and Curatorial Teams at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC (Heidi Swierenga, Pam Brown and Dr. Jill Baird at the Museum). She has also taken some classes at the University of Victoria’s Continuing Studies Program. Her passion is educating and inspiring visitors to learn more about the people, culture and history of the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations, while drawing in shared experiences of other Indigenous People.

Gabriel Bevilacqua Moore

Gabriel Bevilacqua is a historian, archivist, collection manager and lecturer working in the field of cultural heritage documentation and conservation. He holds a BA in History and a MA in Social History from the University of São Paulo and a MBA in Archival Organization from the Instituto de Estudos Brasileiros of the University of São Paulo. As part of his archival and museum documentation training he attended The Modern Archives Institute (National Archives and Records Administration and Library of Congress) and the ICOM-CIDOC Museum Documentation Training Program at the Museum of Texas Tech University. He is the collection manager of the digital art platform and a consultant in cultural heritage digital platforms projects for the São Paulo Biennial and the Mapearte Research Project (Federal University of Maranhão). Before this he worked as a collection manager at Instituto Moreira Salles (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), as an assistant professor of archival science and preventive conservation at the Information Science Department of Universidade Federal Fluminense (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) and as an archivist and coordinator of Pinacoteca de São Paulo’s Centro de Documentação e Memória (São Paulo, Brazil). Since 2007 he has been working as a consultant in collection’s management and documentation projects for Brazilian museums and archives and acting as a trainer and lecturer in courses focused on cultural heritage management and preservation. He also served as a board member of ICOM Brazil National Committee, ICOM’s International Committee for Documentation (CIDOC), the board of Associação de Arquivistas de São Paulo and the curatorial board of Instituto de Arte Contemporânea. He also work as a volunteer and collaborator in projects and currently collaborate with the Vulnerable Media Lab (Queen’s University, Canada), the ABC System for cultural heritage risk management (Fiocruz/ICCROM/CCI), the Tainacan Research Project (University of Brasilia, Brazil) and the Museu Afro Brasil’s documentation and reference centre. He is currently working on a PhD project regarding documentation and conservation of performances in contemporary art museums in Brazil and Canada.

Norman Vorano

A scholar of historic and modern Indigenous art with a specialization in Arctic arts and museum culture, Norman Vorano is a Queen’s National Scholar in Indigenous Art and Material Culture, and Associate Professor of Art History at Queen’s University, Canada. He received his PhD from the University of Rochester’s Program in Visual and Cultural Studies, and from 2005 to 2014, he was the Curator of Contemporary Inuit Art at the Canadian Museum of History. Vorano has curated several international touring exhibitions, including Inuit Prints, Japanese Inspiration: Early Printmaking in the Canadian Arctic (catalogue 2011), which toured Canada and Japan, and Picturing Arctic Modernity: North Baffin Drawings from 1964 (2017-2019), which toured across Canada, including satellite exhibitions in Clyde River, Pond Inlet, and Iqaluit, Nunavut. He has been an elected board member of the Native American Art Studies Association (NAASA), served on the editorial board of the Inuit Art Quarterly, and is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. He is a 2017 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Fellow, for a project that will entail the development and creation of an Arctic Cultural Heritage Research Network (ACHRN).

Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie

How do we decolonize African art history in order to create new ways of defining and interpreting the field? In the past decade, my research has questioned the modes and forms of knowledge production about African art, challenged its canons and historicity, argued about its representation in museums, and evaluated contemporary demands for restitution of African cultural heritage in general. However, the main issue confronting the field of African art history is still the persistence of colonial categories that continue to shape how we produce knowledge about artworks and cultural production; and how we define canons, terms and temporalities of African art. How do we liberate knowledge about African art history from the stranglehold of colonial/imperial epistemologies? What is our current knowledge about African art for and who benefits from it? I am investigating these concerns under the rubric of “Rethinking African Art History”, which I present as a protocol for decolonizing knowledge about Africa’s history, contemporaneity and futurity.

Armando Perla

Armando Perla is a curator, activist, and consultant collaborating with museums, cultural institutions, and communities on issues of human rights and social inclusion in Canada and abroad. He is an Assistant Professor on Decolonization and Race in Museums and Heritage, Teaching Stream, with the Master of Museum Studies, Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. He is a board member of the International Council of Museums’ (ICOM) International Committee on Ethical Dilemmas (IC-Ethics). Perla was part of the founding teams of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Swedish Museum of Migration and Democracy. Since 2020 he has been an International Advisor on Museums, Human Rights and Social Inclusion for the City of Medellin, Colombia. Perla was also an adjunct professor both at the faculty of law at the University of Manitoba and in the Global College at the University of Winnipeg. He holds a Bachelor of Laws from l’Université Laval in Canada and a Master of Laws in International Human Rights Law from Lund University and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Sweden. Prior to working in the museum sector, Perla held several roles in human rights organizations in North America, Latin America, and Europe.

Leno Veras

Leno Veras is a communicologist dedicated to the diffusion of culture and dissemination of science with a focus on expanding access to archives, libraries, and museum collections through the digital transformation of heritage. Currently is an associate curator at the South American Information Directorate of the Goethe-Institut, and a representative in different international organizations, such as the Association for Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS) and the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA). Also integrates the School of Communication at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, in addition to being an associated scholar with the Warburg Institute at the School of Advanced Studies at the University of London; besides being the Head of Research, managing the documental collections at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro.

Mike Jones

Dr Mike Jones is an archivist, historian, and collections consultant currently based in the Research Centre for Deep History (Australian National University). Since 2008 he has collaborated with diverse researchers, community organisations, and the GLAM sector (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) on digital collections and public history projects. His research explores the history of collections and
collections-based knowledge, and the ways in which contemporary technologies can help to develop and maintain relationships within and between collections and communities.

Ananda Rutherford

Ananda Rutherford is a researcher and museum documentation specialist. In the process of completing a doctorate at UCL’s Centre for Digital Humanities, her research focuses on the relationship between digitsation in cultural heritage and traditional documentation practices. She is currently employed as Research Associate on the TaNC Foundation project, Provisional Semantics, based at Tate. The project explores issues around structural racism and potential decolonisation in museum cataloguing and object description, attempting to address the barriers that prevent embedded and sustainable change. Formerly Assistant Keeper at the Museum of the Home, she has worked with a number of significant collections including the Ashmolean, V&A, Crafts Council and Sir John Soane’s Museum and has a background in art history and the decorative arts.

Lina Nagel

MA en Estudios y Manejo del Patrimonio Cultural, Universidad de Tarapacá, Santiago, Chile. MA en Estudios y Conservación de Monumentos, Otto – Friedrich Universität, Bamberg y MA en Historia del Arte y Arqueología Clásica, Christian – Albrechts Universität, Kiel,
Alemania. Coordinadora Unidad de Tráfico Ilícito de Bienes Patrimoniales. Servicio Nacional del Patrimonio Cultural. 1992 – 2018 Registro y documentación. Servicio Nacional del Patrimonio Cultural, Ministerio de las Culturas, las Artes y el Patrimonio. Profesora de “Registro y documentación de Bienes patrimoniales”. Universidad de Chile. Profesora invitada en Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez y Universidad Los Andes Publicaciones en Registro, Tráfico ilícito de bienes patrimoniales e historia del arte.