Friday, March 19, 2010

Getting cultured in Manhattan...

Lauren, as you know already, is a curator at the National Aboriginal Gallery in Canberra when she gets the chance of a life-time to go to New York. The job that awaits her is at the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian, downtown at Bowling Green. The actual building is set in the Old Customs House and there are marine references throughout. Lauren and I enjoyed our research time there, and the five things that we liked most about it were:

1. The “Identity by design: ‘Tradition, Change and Celebration in Native Women’s Dresses’ exhibition. The collection includes the oldest Native wedding dress known in any collection. Of course seeing the dress put ideas about marriage into Lauren’s head, but I was quick to snap her out of it.

2. The temporary exhibition space: When Lauren and I were there we spent a lot of time absorbing the ‘Fritz Scholder: Indian / Not Indian’ exhibition which tackled some of the identity issues in native art. I particularly liked the piece ‘Vampire kissing fallen Angel #1’. I won’t lie to you, seeing Scholder’s work and watching the accompanying video of him almost made me want to be a visual artist. And then Lauren snapped me right out of it. There was a lot of ‘snapping’ while we were away together.

3. The Diker Pavilion: it’s where they host Indigenous films and a biennial Native American Film and Video Festival. I hope the locals get as excited about the space as we did!

4. The Resource library: it was a terrific space with very friendly staff where we made use of the Museums books, objects, catalogues and on-line materials. I wanted to spend more time there but Lauren was anxious to get to our next highlight…

5. The Museum Shop: once in the door we scanned the space quickly and then started our buying: I left with earrings for myself and gifts for my nieces and nephews, and Lauren bought a cookbook for her friend / character Cash Brannigan.

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