In this blog, Zelia Bukhari of the ‘Curating an Exhibition’ course tells us about some of the objects that didn’t make it into the exhibition:
‘While creating this exhibition so far our team had some disagreements, as many teams do, but one unspoken understanding we all had as curators was our need and desire to believe in the collection we will display. The decision of what objects to display was at the heart of our exhibition operations. We had access to the collections and Marischal Museum Collections store which is vast and profound, making our jobs as curators much more challenging. So how do we choose which objects NOT to display?
Throughout this blog post I will briefly delve into four objects, and why we chose not to display them in our exhibition: Objects Uncovered – Questioning Authenticity,which will open on the 11th June in Sir Duncan Rice Library.
Controversies surrounding displaying certain objects have existed as long as museums have existed. For us as a young, educated, diverse group of curators, we wanted to ensure that we contemplate and consider each object not just from our own perspective, but from the experiences of our targeted audience. We reflected on what roles our objects could play in the special experience we hoped to develop for our visitors. We made sure the objects fitted in with our overarching theme, were accessible and appropriate to be put on display.
- Java Market (ABDUA: 9572)
Initially this item was chosen because it fit one of our initial sub-themes; “miniatures”, which described and questioned our comprehension of authenticity. We believed that this item would aid us in telling the story we were hoping to in our exhibit.
Sadly, we had to leave this item be as it was too delicate to move and we felt that the message the object would have conveyed could be conveyed with another less fragile object. While a very cute item that we would have loved to present to our audience, especially children who visited, we could not risk it.
2. Brazilian Quivers (ABDUA: 9226)
This object was described as “authentic”
quivers from Brazil. It was one of the original objects to be chosen back in
November when we first started planning the exhibit as a class. As they are
labelled as “authentic”, they definitely raised an interesting point in our
exhibit, one that questions authenticity in general.
The reason why we had to leave this item alone was because…it was poisonous! The poisonous part was the primary reason we did not give the quivers a second thought, but it also turned out that once we began to define our theme, this object did not fit into the exhibition theme.
3. Ivory Palace (ABDUA: 5647)
The Ivory Palace is not only miniature, fitting into the subtheme I
mentioned earlier on, but it is a STUNNING piece as well.
Again chosen in November, the pure beauty of this piece would have added a zest we were so far lacking aesthetically in our exhibit. Sadly, though, we were told we could not display the Ivory Palace as once again it was too fragile to be displayed in this particular exhibition. It was also an extremely large miniature, which would have changed the layout and dynamics of our exhibition!
4. Bolivian Bowl: (ABDUA: 8862)
We chose the Bolivian Bowl as though it was called a “Bolivian bowl”, its object description used the word “Indian.” Which led us to question the authenticity of this object’s story, therefore being something that we thought would be extremely interesting for our exhibition audience.
We had to exclude the item as we found out upon further inspection that it was a grave good, which we as a class felt it was dishonorable to display.
We had many different objects chosen for our exhibition. Throughout the process we learned there were many we could not display due to various reasons from it not fitting our theme anymore, to lighting issues in our exhibition space being detrimental to the object, to us feeling it was unethical to display certain objects. After much thought and decision, I am proud to say I think our class has picked some amazing objects to display, that will certainly tell our visitors an amazing story of what authenticity really is, and its subjectivity as a whole. ‘