HOW OBJECTS CAME TO BE HERE?
“Past events exist, after all, only in memory, which is a form of imagination,” wrote Ursula K Le Guin. “The event is real now, but once it’s then, its continuing reality is entirely up to us, dependent on our energy and honesty.”
"Museums are institutions of memory – they must stop pretending there’s only one version of events, and be willing to own up to their role in shaping the way we see the past. There is no such thing as neutrality or objectivity. Every label in a gallery was written by a person. Every object was placed, every room was designed. Those people are reflecting their backgrounds in the choices they make, consciously or not.
I make “Display It Like You Stole It” badges for people to wear on the tours. It’s a slogan designed to push museums and visitors to rethink the politics of presentation in galleries. On most text panels there’s little or no mention of how objects came to be there. Euphemistic language of “acquisition” obscures the truth. I don’t believe most visitors to the British Museum’s Benin and South Pacific collections, for example, or the V&A’s Indian collections, come away understanding that these are largely the spoils of war. My tours, and projects like them, will continue until museums engage fully with their imperial legacies without needing to be prompted. I don’t know when that will happen, but it must."
The indigenous peoples of North America have maintained their cultural identity since ancient times. Room 26 explores both historic artefacts and the contemporary art of the Native inhabitants of Canada and the United States, while illustrating the effect of European contact and colonisation on their communities.
Scroll through the images below, from left to right, to see the sequence of 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional exhibits. These images represent both adult and children's "eye line view." It's important to understand the effect that these perspectives and compositions have on how we interpret what we see.