The Diorama Dilemma: Is There a Future for Anthropology in Museums? - Chip Colwell (Senior Curator of Anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science) - Barbara A. and Edward G. Hail Lecture

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Wednesday, November 02, 2016 5:30pm - 6:30pm
Salomon Center, Room 001

In the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s Native American cultures hall there are an array of mannequins representing Native peoples. Some are faceless dummies that could be selling jeans at The Gap. Some are Plexiglas cutouts with faces drawn in Sharpie. Some are digital. Some were originally hand sculpted with local Native Americans posing for the artist. This jumble of images is the springboard to examine the quandaries of representation, participation, voice, inclusivity, and interpretation that have long plagued the anthropology museum. Yet, even after several decades of concerted effort—the rise of the National Museum of the American Indian, the celebration of the collaborative ethic—these dilemmas continue to plague us. We are thus forced to ask: Is there truly a future for anthropology in the museum world? This lecture illuminates why an answer to that question is both strangely elusive and vitally necessary. Sponsored by donors to the Barbara A. and Edward G. Hail Lecture Fund and the Friends of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology.

Dr. Chip Colwell is Senior Curator of Anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He has held fellowships with the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, National Endowment for the Humanities, and US Fulbright Program. He has published more than 50 scholarly articles and chapters, and 9 books. His work has been highlighted in such venues as The New York Times, The Denver Post, Archaeology Magazine, and garnered numerous awards, including the National Council on Public History Book Award. He is the founding editor-in-chief of SAPIENS, an online magazine dedicated to anthropology for the public.