Sean Mallon
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Agency and authority
The politics of co-collecting
in Curatopia
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At the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, there are two positions dedicated to curating Pacific Cultures. Since 2002, the curators have been of Pacific Islands descent. One of our ongoing challenges is how to represent Pacific societies and cultures, which are increasingly transnational and indeed global, in our exhibitions and collections. We are conscientiously developing co-curating and co-collecting strategies in our approach to this milieu. However, there is actually a long history of Pacific communities in New Zealand engaging the museum in curating, collecting and exhibiting processes. In this chapter, I share some examples, highlighting how Pacific communities have exercised their agency and authority, influencing their representation in the National Museum. I describe our curatorial responses and examine what was at stake in these interactions, and what tensions and politics were and remain at play.

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Museums and the future of curatorship


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