Title

Collecting For A College Museum: Exchange Practices and the Life History of a 19th-Century Arctic Collection

Abstract

The central role of exchange in museum collecting merits greater scholarly attention. We present an anthropological framework for analyzing exchange practices that illuminates the complex and shifting meanings collections accrue through their life histories. We illustrate this by examining the series of late 19th-century exchanges that produced a small, but historically important, ethnological collection at the Oberlin College Museum from the North American Arctic. The analysis sheds new light on the uneasy development of ethnology from its natural history roots, and on the role of small colleges in furthering the modern sciences curriculum. Examining collection life histories by way of exchange practices also highlights new interpretive challenges that accompany old collections.

Publisher

American Anthropological Association

Publication Date

Fall 1-1-2011

Publication Title

Museum Anthropology

Department

Anthropology

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1111/j.1548-1379.2011.01112.x

Keywords

Museum collecting, Arctic regions, Smithsonian, History of anthropology, Digital media

Language

English

Format

text

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