Annabelle Verhagen at the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, British Museum – summer 2016

Annabelle_VerhagenMy summer placement at the British Museum acquainted me with the many tasks and different practical aspects involved in such a great and diverse institution. Most of the five weeks spent at the Americas, Oceania and Africa Department (AOA) were dedicated to researching different objects for a forthcoming temporary exhibition on the American Northwest Coast. We worked closely with one of the main curators for the Americas department, who was in the process of selecting objects for the exhibition opening in February 2017. Each object had its own unique story and background, which we were able to identify from the copious sources available in the Museum’s Anthropology Library and Research Centre. Helping the curator in the planning, research and preparation phase gave us valuable insight into the many different aspects of curating an exhibition. One of the most important objectives of this exhibition is convincingly to demonstrate the continuity of culture on the American Northwest Coast. However, adhering to this script was not always feasible due to various parties involved, such as the audience, the institution, and the artists of the American Northwest Coast.

Other tasks ranged from editing descriptions for the main database, to registering Peruvian slides for the pictorial collection, and searching for registration slips in order to identify many of the “un-located” items in the museum. The different tasks undertaken at the British Museum added valuable practical insight and hands-on experience of research to my UCU curriculum.