PRACTICAL ASPECTS OF CONSULTATION WITH COMMUNITIES
JESSICA S. JOHNSON, SUSAN HEALD, KELLY MCHUGH, ELIZABETH BROWN, & MARIAN KAMINITZ
NMAI's approach to treatment and display has evolved substantially since conservation consultations with Native communities and individuals began in 2001 for the Mall exhbits. This paper presented procedures that were developed and adapted at NMAI for these essential interactions during preparation for the opening of the new Mall museum. As all circumstances are unique, these approaches are not meant as a blueprint for how it should be done, but are simply presented as a set of techniques developed within the framework of our parameters. Several specific projects undertaken at the NMAI with the assistance of Native community representatives are presented in the paper to illustrate the variety of experiences.
For NMAI staff, it has been a great honor and pleasure to work with the many people who have provided advice during the preparation of the Mall exhibits. It is the hope of the NMAI that the consultation process is a step toward a more active role of Native communities in the conservation and preservation of their cultural material in the museum. At this point in the process, much of the involvement of Native consultants is project-driven and initiated by the Museum. The goal for the future is to build on these relationships to a point where the NMAI and Native communities can achieve a balanced partnership in the overall care and treatment of the collections.
We would like to acknowledge the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to make these consultations possible. The authors would like to thank all the community consultants who so generously gave their time and expertise to guide us in our work. We also want to thank our museum colleagues, Carmen Arellano, Miranda Belarde-Lewis, Bruce Bernstein, Cecile Ganteaume, Emil Her Many Horses, Craig Howe, Truman Lowe, Harvey Markowitz, Ramiro Matos, Ann McMullen, Jim Pepper Henry, and Terry Snowball, as we each developed our abilities and understanding of how a consultation can work. Many other Cultural Resources Center staff contributed their time for logistics such as object movement, documentation and administrative assistance. Numerous Mellon Fellows and Interns, and preprogram interns participated in the consultations and carried out the work involved in preparing the objects for exhibit. Without the help of all these colleagues and friends, this work could not have been done. And finally, we would like to acknowledge the efforts of Carolyn Rose who personally influenced each of the authors.