Sarah Florander at the British Museum, Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, summer 2014

sarah-florander-librarySarah’s work mainly focused on researching objects from Australia and the Torres Strait Islands for two exhibitions scheduled for 2015: ‘Exhibiting Indigenous Australia’ and Tapa. Her activities ranged from collection management tasks for the pictorial collection, to using the British Museum database Merlin and its digital assets software; and compiling ethnographic documents and photographs for the Sepik region for the Tapa exhibition. The Australian exhibition project is part of the collaborative project Encounters between the British Museum, the National Museum of Australia and ANU.   

 “Most of my time was spent on researching two key objects – a rainforest shield from Rockingham Bay, Northern Queensland, and what is thought to be a decorated headdress from the Kimberley region of North-western Australia. The rainforest shield epitomizes the complex and often violent encounters between indigenous Aboriginals and the first British settlers to arrive in the late eighteenth century. The headdress prompted a search for connections with the ancestral Wandjina figures depicted in the Kimberley rock paintings.

The BM has excellent library facilities: I used primary sources, such as registration slips and correspondence, as well as consulting publications and digital information to research the life stories of objects and collectors. Creating such an exhibition revealed both the vast historical networks of exchange involved in contemporary collections and the possibility of creating new stories through the collaborative research process.”

Sarah’s bachelor thesis, entitled ‘The Collaborative Compromise: Investigating the use of community-based consultation in exhibiting Australian Aboriginal Art’,explores some of the insights gained during her volunteer placement with AOA.

Class of 2014 ½ HUM Major/ SSC Minor