I wish to interrogate how museums that are distanced from communities whose cultural materials they hold—such as European institutions with collections from the Americas—are negotiating these distances to achieve culturally appropriate care. There are two museums in Rome, the Vatican and the Pigorini, with major American Indigenous holdings, and with significant investments in redefining colonial museum practices. My proposed research includes working with both museums, and others throughout Europe, to explore whether sharing digital surrogates, or reaching out to diaspora communities of local cultural descendants, or other practices, have offered viable alternatives to in-person and in-place sharing about conservation decision making and consequent museum representation. Diaspora community involvement has been utilized by the Pigorini for exhibitions, but how did this translate into how collections were conserved? What are the material and cultural translations that occur?
The photograph of Ellen Pearlstein was taken by Joanie Harmon.