Unsettled Archives: Museum Interventions for Shifting Perspectives

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The Maine North Atlantic Institute (MNAI) at the University of Southern Maine is excited to announce Unsettled Archives: Museum Interventions for Shifting Perspectives, a continuation of our webinar series, MNAI Convenes, that explores topics related to Maine’s relationship to the North Atlantic and Arctic. 

JOIN US for two presentationsthat examine how museums and cultural institutions in Greenland and Maine are revisiting their permanent collections to begin new dialogues and experiences that address processes of decolonization, representation and ethics.

Dr. Darren Ranco, Professor of Anthropology and Chair of Native American Programs at the University of Maine, will discuss decolonizing partnerships and activities between UMaine and the Penobscot Nation. He will highlight the successes and challenges of digital repatriation of tribal cultural heritage items in the Fogler Library and the Hudson Museum, the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for these items, and the reclamation of Indigenous spaces on campus through bilingual English-Penobscot signage.

Nivi Christensen, Museum Director of the Nuuk Art Museum (Nuummi Eqqumiitsulianik Saqqummersitsivik), will share the challenges that come with making a formerly private collection more diverse through strategic purchases. She will further discuss the museum’s acquisition and exhibition of contemporary Greenlandic artworks, like artist Pia Arke’s Arctic Hysteria, in contrast to the collection’s landscape paintings by white men (Grønlandsmalere). Further, she will describe how the Greenlandic word for art, Eqqumiitsuliorneq, represents the ‘outcast’ in Greenlandic art, and challenges the viewer to reflect on both the one looking and what is being looked at.


Dr. Darren J. Ranco has a joint appointment in the George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental and Watershed Research and in Native American Programs, where he serves as Chair of Native American Research. His research focuses on the ways in which Indigenous communities in the United States resist environmental destruction by using indigenous diplomacies and critiques of liberalism to protect cultural resources, and how state knowledge systems, rooted in colonial contexts, continue to expose Indigenous peoples to an inordinate amount of environmental risk. A member of the Penobscot Indian Nation, Ranco is particularly interested in how better research relationships can be made between universities, Native and non-Native researchers, and Indigenous communities.

Nivi Christensen is an Art Historian specializing in Greenlandic Art, with a masters degree from the University of Copenhagen. Since 2015, she has been the Museum Director of Nuuk Art Museum, the largest of the only two art museums in Greenland. Christensen has had a specific goal to make the museum more relevant for the local population, and questions how the museum’s collection is predominantly represented by European expedition painters. Further, she will reflect on the Greenlandic word for art, Eqqumiitsuliorneq that directly translates ‘to do/create something weird’ and challenges the viewer to reflect on both the one looking and what is being looked at.(Nivi Christensen's photo by Mads Pihl/Visit Greenland)

This event is presented by the University of Southern Maine Art Department and the Maine North Atlantic Institute.