meg log header med





credit Nikhilesh Havel copy

Museum Ethnographers' Group Annual Conference

Nature and Culture in Museums

Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 April 2015

Powell-Cotton Museum, Kent

Conference organiser: Inbal Livne

Programme.

Conference review

Collecting and studying the natural world and ethnography simultaneously has occurred in a ‘museum’ setting since the time of John Tradescant the elder in the early seventeenth century. This relationship between nature and culture continued well into the twentieth century, for both private collectors and publicly accessible museums. The Powell-Cotton Museum is perhaps one of the most overt expressions of this dual passion, bringing into the twenty-first century a Victorian vision of the world that is at once both historic, and incredibly contemporary, due to its approach in forming relationships between objects from the natural world and our world, today. 

 

Unlike many museums, the Powell-Cotton has retained the juxtaposition of nature and culture and has in fact cemented it further. Through the recent refurbishment of one of our permanent galleries, visitors can engage with and learn from both disciplines simultaneously, to create new ways of seeing all ‘things’ in the world around them. This has not come without challenges and has thrown up many questions. How do we create balanced relationships between nature and culture? Is it possible to present material culture and the natural world ‘naturally’, or is the museum space just contrived presentation of our own visions and agendas as twenty-first century museum curators and educators?
 
Speakers included amongst others representatives from the Horniman Museum, Sydney University Museums, Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. A variety of diverse papers, ranging from animal representations in museums to the way in which we think about 'nature' as a cultural object were presented to conference delegates.
 
 IMG 8032 copy

 

Latest Blog Posts

  • SSN Islamic Art and Material Culture  has just launched the third and final year of its Specialist Support Scheme. This is open to any museum in the UK that has an Islamic Art and Material Culture collection. The specialist support scheme aims to provide regional museums with a toolkit to help them unlock the potential of their collections of Islamic Art & Material Culture (IAMC)...

  • The Art Fund are pleased to be partnering once again with Whitechapel Gallery to offer a series of professional development courses for curators and museum professionals this autumn.This series is targeted at both early-career and more experienced curators, whether new to the topic or wishing to refresh and expand their existing knowledge. These hands-on courses will draw on the expertise of staff from across...

.