Anne-Sophie Halbertsma at the Research Center for Material Culture (RCMC), National Museum of World Cultures, Leiden. March – July, 2017.

Anne_Sophie_Halbertsma_2The RCMC serves the Tropenmuseum(Amsterdam, Museum Volkenkunde (Leiden), and Afrika Museum(Berg en Dal), which merged as the National Museum of World Culture in 2014. My task was to write an exhibition proposal about human beauty, taking a cross-cultural perspective that would specifically look at body politics. The most important part of the work was interviewing the curators who pointed me to interesting topics, cultural practices, beauty ideals and related conflicts, collection objects, and contemporary artists.

These curatorial conversations made a great impression on me. Curators mirror the broader institutional shift that has occurred in ethnographic museums from being places for representing others, to practicing co-curation and ensuring that indigenous people’s voices are heard.

The resulting exhibition proposal, ‘Iedereen Mooi?’ (Everyone Beautiful?), comprised a number of key themes that questioned familiar Western beauty ideals by bringing alternative notions of beauty to the fore. It also identified objects, photographs and films that could potentially be exhibited. Moreover it explained the contemporary relevance of the topic and its alignment with the museum’s mission; and identified the space needed, potential partners, educational and interactive materials and programs, and marketing activities. 

Double Major HUM/SSC. Class of 2017.

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