Joining in on the collections access conversation is Rebecca Andrews, Ethnology Collections Manager at the Burke Museum in Seattle.
This past week I exchanged emails with Rebecca about some of the fascinating ways the Burke Museum partners with indigenous communities around the world to provide access to collection objects for ceremonial purposes.
According to Rebecca the Burke lends objects for ceremonial use three or four times per year. She informed me that, “Some are contemporary pieces that can actually be worn and danced, not just looked at.” Objects are often made accessible to Northwest Coast tribes, but Samoa, Maori, and Lao pieces have also been loaned for use.
In November 2008, Rebecca had the privilege to witness an historic celebration in Wrangell, Alaska, and to be the courier for a cultural object lent to the event by the Burke Museum. She wrote about this wonderful experience back in 2009 on the Burke’s blog.
In her post she states, “Because the Burke Museum is committed to making the collections held at the museum available to Native Americans, when we received the request to have the Keet S’aaxw (Killerwhale Hat) … attend the celebration, we determined that we would do our best to make this request become a reality.”
Her post goes on to provide a terrific step by step account of all the work that goes into facilitating this type of access to collections objects as well as highlights the impact and significant role the loaned object played in the ceremony.
Be sure to read the whole story here; http://burkemuseum.blogspot.com/2009/01/all-in-days-work.html.
Rebecca Andrews has been the Ethnology Collections Manager at the Burke Museum since 1991. As the collections manager, Rebecca ensures that the 43,000+ cultural objects in the Ethnology Division are cared for, catalogued and accessible for research, exhibition, museum loans, or other educational use. This includes cleaning objects, making storage mounts, inventorying the collections, assisting with research requests and visits, and ensuring that photographs of the collections are available on the Burke Museum website. She also oversees the Ethnology Archives (50,000+ photographs and documents), the divisional library, an active Rights and Reproductions program, and digitizing the collections. Rebecca earned a B.S. in Crop and Soil Sciences from Michigan State University and an M. A. in Anthropology/Museum studies from the University of Washington.