THE EXHIBITION AND CONSERVATION OF AFRICAN OBJECTS: CONSIDERING THE NONTANGIBLE
STEPHEN P. MELLOR
To care for African objects in a manner that respects their aesthetic, formal, contextual, and nontangible attributes, conservators must remain vigilantly informed about African cultures. This can be a formidable task, particularly when we are confronted with objects for which the historical and contextual records are incomplete. However, by pursuing dialogues with Africanists, anthropologists, art historians, and Africans and by studying pertinent literature from dissertation studies to catalogues raisonnés, conservators can constantly refine their understanding of African objects. When conservators are prepared to make informed conservation decisions concerning treatment and exhibition and offer enlightened opinions regarding acquisitions, deaccessioning, or even repatriation, then they will be assured that they have treated these objects with dignity.