This is my third full day of living in Washington, D.C. for field work term and already I’ve spoken to a Smithsonian museum director, been given the email for Lord Colin Renfrew (a mega superstar in archaeology/cultural heritage), and super nervously emailed the assistant Director-General of UNESCO’s Culture sector.
This year, instead of doing a typical field work term, I’m doing an independent study to do research for my advanced work in anthropology and art history. My senior project explores the rift between the archaeological and museum words over the ethics of displaying unprovenanced/unscientifically excavated artifacts, and I am using the controversy surrounding a proposed exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery as a case study. I’ve been really lucky to have the full support of the Sackler Gallery’s director, Julian Raby. Not even 24 hours after I got off the train, I met Dr. Raby for a full hour to discuss the controversy. Because I’ve interned at the Smithsonian before, I’m aware that the people who run it are really cool, passionate people, but I’ve just been blown away by how generous this museum director has been with his time and information. Now, I’m spending my weekend emailing the people who were involved in the controversy to ask for interviews, putting together a portfolio to catalogue my research, and burying myself in the stunning images of this exhibition catalogue.