Smithsonian Names Members of Its Human Remains Task Force

Via Smithsonian News Desk, 16 May 2023

The Smithsonian has named 13 members for its task force on human remains, which will develop a policy that addresses the future of the Institution’s human remains collection. The task force will hold its first meeting May 24.

The National Museum of Natural History possesses 30,000 human remains from the 18th and early 19th centuries and has been gradually repatriating remains since 1989. The group will recommend a policy for the appropriate handling of human remains in the Smithsonian’s collection, including Native and non-Native remains and will promote respectful engagement with descendants and descendant communities.

The task force members are:

  • Ellen Stofan, co-chair, Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for Science and Research
  • Kevin Gover, co-chair, Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for Museums and Culture
  • Craig Blackwell, associate general counsel in the Smithsonian’s Office of the General Counsel
  • Michael Blakey, Ph.D., professor of anthropology and American studies at the College of William & Mary
  • Philip Deloria, professor of history at Harvard University
  • Celia Emmelhainz, supervisory anthropologist, National Anthropological Archives and Human Studies Film Archives at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History
  • Richard Kurin, Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large at the Smithsonian
  • Gabrielle Miller, program specialist and archaeologist at the Center for the Study of Global Slavery at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • Rick Potts, chair of anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History
  • David Resnik, Ph.D., bioethicist at the National Institutes of Health
  • Marguerite Roby, photograph archivist at Smithsonian Libraries and Archives
  • Sabrina Sholts, curator of biological anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History
  • Reed Tuckson, M.D., managing director of Tuckson Health Connections
  • Sally Yerkovich, Ph.D., director of educational exchange and special projects at The American-Scandinavian Foundation and adjunct professor at Columbia University
  • Kevin Young, Andrew W. Mellon Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

More here. 

Position Announcement: Research Associate, Applied Arts of Europe, The Art Institute of Chicago

Position Summary

The museum’s collections of Applied Arts of Europe comprise 9,500 works of art ranging in date from about 1100 to 1945. The department is committed to developing an inclusive account of design history, exploring creative communities and global networks and their relevance for contemporary audiences.


Under the direction of the chair, curators and director of curatorial administration the research associate assists with research, writing, and content production for the departmental collection(s), exhibitions, gallery rotations, and reinstallations; conducts art historical and art market research; investigates ownership, publication, and exhibition histories for objects; maintains and updates object database records, object files, and departmental research files; supports the departmental goals in publishing research about the collection online; and responds to research-related inquiries from scholars, peers, and the public.


Research: Provides curatorial research support for the departmental collection, exhibitions, loans, acquisitions, and gifts; investigates ownership, publication, and exhibition histories for objects; produces acquisition justifications, interpretive content, and exhibition-related materials; conducts art historical and art market research about and related to objects in the permanent collection, loans, and potential acquisitions; produces and ensures accuracy of information presented in the galleries, online, and in the departmental object files and records; and fields requests and inquiries from scholars, peers, and the public.*

Curatorial support: Updates museum database with research findings; as needed, assists with metadata tagging in museum database; participates in the departmental efforts to publish all objects online with comprehensive information. Assists the director of curatorial administration with tasks related to departmental file organization and maintenance. Supports the research for and the preparation of materials for advisory committee meetings. Under the direction of the chair, may support various aspects of developing and implementing exhibitions, rotations, reinstallations, and projects as assigned.*

Audience outreach: As needed, gives gallery tours and lectures on the departmental collection(s) and exhibitions; and participates in scholarly symposia and conferences related to collection and exhibition research.


  • Master’s degree or equivalent experience in art history or related subject required
  • For associates, minimum of two years of relevant experience required; for assistants, some relevant experience required
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office and Google suites required; ability to learn museum-specific collection database systems
  • Knowledge of foreign languages as appropriate to areas of specialty preferred
  • Familiarity with or specialization in departmental field(s) preferred
  • The successful candidate should:
  • be highly detail-oriented and organized;
  • demonstrate initiative;
  • embrace the museum’s commitment to creating an inclusive and equitable institution;
  • have an open-minded and collaborative approach to working and communicating with all colleagues across the museum;
  • and have strong research, writing, communication, multitasking, project management, and organizational skills.

More here. 

Call for Papers: The Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting, Santa Fe, March 26-30, 2024

The Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) invites abstracts (sessions, papers, posters, and videos) for the Program of the 84th Annual Meeting in Santa Fe, NM, March 26-30, 2024. The theme of the Program is “Enchantment and Transformation.”

The 2024 SfAA Annual Meeting offers researchers, practitioners, and students from diverse disciplines and organizations the opportunity to discuss their work and consider how it can contribute to a better future. SfAA members come from a host of disciplines — anthropology, geography, sociology, economics, business, planning, medicine, nursing, law, and more. The annual meeting provides a fertile venue in which to trade ideas, methods, and practical solutions, as well as an opportunity to enter the lifeworlds of other professionals.

The deadline for abstract submission is October 15, 2023.

More here.

Position Announcement: Curator/Senior Curator, Americas, National Museum Scotland

Posted: 15/05/2023 16:25
Salary: £33,511-£41,785 per annum
Location: National Museum Of Scotland, Chambers Street
Level: Curatorial
Deadline: 02/07/2023 23:59
Hours: 37
Benefits: Membership of Civil Service pension scheme.
Job Type: Permanent

National Museums Scotland is one of the leading museum groups in Europe. With one of the largest and most diverse collections in the world, we are responsible for the acquisition, preservation and display of a substantial part of Scotland’s cultural, historic and national heritage.

Millions of local and international visitors enjoy our four museums each year, and we also introduce our collections to a much wider audience than can physically visit our museums through, touring exhibitions, loans, community engagement, digital programmes and research.

Over the last decade, we have invested over £120 million in our sites and have more than doubled our visitor numbers, with over 3 million people now visiting our four museums. Alongside this, we have continued to transform how we communicate and engage with our audiences. 2019 has seen the completion of our Masterplan for the National Museum of Scotland with the opening of three new galleries dedicated to Ancient Egypt, East Asia and the Art of Ceramics.

The Americas collections within the Department of Global Arts, Cultures and Design (GACD) at National Museums Scotland (NMS) include approximately 7,700 cultural belongings from South, Central, and North America, most of which were originally collected as archaeological, anthropological or art objects. The Americas collections are on display in the Living Lands, Patterns of Life and Artistic Legacies galleries.

Some of the collections are connected to early voyages of British colonial exploration (e.g. Captain James Cook (1776-1779), Sir William Parry (1790–1855), Frederick Beechey (1796–1856), and Dr John Rae (1813–1893)). Early museum policy also established international links that yielded significant collections including those by Hudson’s Bay Company factors in Canada from Arctic and Subarctic peoples in the late 1850s. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, archaeologists and private collectors contributed to the collections from South America, which are particularly strong in Peruvian textiles, as well as Chimu, Moche and Nasca pottery. Material was also transferred from the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum. Since the 1970s contemporary material from North America has been collected with a focus on jewellery from the Southwestern United States and contemporary art from the Northwest Coast.

More here. 

Position Announcement: Curatorial Assistant – Anthropology, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Title:  Curatorial Assistant

Classification:  Full-time, Non-Exempt

Department:  Anthropology

Reports To:  Associate Curator of Anthropology

Salary:  $21.63 – $23.00 per hour


Position Summary:

Identify, organize, catalog and label a variety of archival, archaeological, and/or ethnographic materials; inventory, improve, and document existing collections. ; provide other assistance for projects undertaken under the auspices of the anthropology department.

Specific Responsibilities:

  • Using a collection management software (CMS) program, enter data into computerized database
  • Perform quality control on database entries made by volunteers and interns
  • May identify, sort, and verify accuracy of data to be entered
  • Package, organize, and label materials for curation
  • Reorganize and improve storage of existing collections, and update CMS, accordingly
  • Assist staff in NAGPRA and CalNAGPRA documentation, including organizing files and documents for use in Tribal consultation
  • Assist in the training and supervision of undergraduate interns
  • Digitize documentary records associated with anthropological collections
  • Organize and file documentation associated with anthropological collections and research and exhibits projects undertaken by the department’s curators


Essential Requirements:

  • Proficient computer skills, particularly with Microsoft Excel and Word, and Adobe Acrobat
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Be able to work independently and with minimal supervision
  • Experience in archaeology and artifact identification highly desirable

Work Environment:

  • Frequent standing, walking and bending
  • Frequent work in an office environment
  • Frequent work on a computer
  • Occasional lifting of light loads (25 lbs)
Salary Description
$21.63 – $23.00 per hour

Finding Ceremony for Ancestors Held in the Penn Museum and Other Colonial Institutions

Via Sapiens, 10 May 2023

ON FEBRUARY 13, 2023, a Pennsylvania court decided the fate of cranial remains from 20 Black Philadelphians that have been kept in the basement of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

The court granted Penn Museum’s request to bury the remains—without requiring the university to identify the deceased and notify their descendants. According to the judge’s decree, resulting from this unprecedented court process, the burial must occur by February 13, 2024.

Some of these individuals may have been enslaved during their lifetimes. We witness in this process that the Ivy League university has turned them into property once again, referring to their bones as “charitable assets” during a status conference one week before the hearing.

The 20 crania that Penn seeks to bury are part of the Penn Museum’s Morton Cranial Collection, which contains the cranial remains of between 1,300 and 1,600 people. The majority were collected in the 1830s and 1840s by Penn alum Dr. Samuel George Morton, one of the founders of physical anthropology.

For generations, Penn has exerted control over these and other ancestors’ remains through theft, display, and research-based extraction. We seek a consent-based process controlled by descendants and descendant community members, a process we call “Finding Ceremony.”

More here. 

Kānawāpātahmōwin: Introduction to Indigenous Visual Knowledge with Cristóbal Martínez (Postcommodity), Leroy Little Bear, Harald Gaski


The first event in the 2023 series, Kānawāpātahmōwin: Indigenous Visual Knowledge, which is co-presented by the Power Institute and the Wapatah Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge. Learn more about the Wapatah Centre and the series here.


Wednesday, 5 April 2023
7:00pm-8:30pm (EDT)

Thursday, 6 April 2023
9:00am-10:30am (AEDT)


Online. Register here.
Upon registration, a zoom link will be emailed to you

More here. 

When Culture Is Threatened, They Come to the Rescue

Via The New York Times, May 5, 2023

On March 11, 2022, the youth library in the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine was bombarded by Russian missiles. Whole sections of the 120-year-old Gothic-inspired building were blasted off, leaving it in a state of devastation.

Serhiy Laevsky — the director of the Museum of Ukrainian Antiquities, which is part of the same institution as the library — chronicled the wreckage in a Facebook post. Alongside photos of the ruined building, he shared the story of its history: The edifice had survived shelling by the Bolsheviks in 1918 and 1919 as well as bombings by Nazi Germany during World War II. Now, Mr. Laevsky wrote, Russia had “ruined” a center of Ukrainian culture and learning that was “a monument of local history.”

Within days, Cultural Emergency Response — an organization that works to provide first aid to damaged or endangered cultural sites around the world — came to the rescue. Working with local partners and the World Monuments Fund, a nonprofit that’s also dedicated to preserving cultural heritage, it helped to clear debris from the site, fill the pit caused by the explosion, prop up the badly damaged roof to prevent collapse and erect scaffolding to stabilize the building.

The library is one of more than 100 Ukrainian cultural institutions that Cultural Emergency Response has supported since the Russian invasion in February 2022. With a staff of seven at its Amsterdam headquarters, the organization is active in more than 80 countries via local partners.

More here. 

Position Announcement: Program Manager (Repatriation), The Smithsonian Institution

The Program Manager of the RO has responsibility for overseeing all aspects of the operation and administration of the program in repatriation of Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony presently held in the collections of the Department of Anthropology.

In this position, you will:

  • Performs program management of all aspects of administration of the Repatriation Office.
  • Plans, implements, coordinates, and manages the documentation, deaccession, and repatriation of Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony.
  • Prioritizes inventory projects using knowledge of the Anthropology of North American Indians and familiarity with the legal issues surrounding repatriation.
  • Engages and consults directly with Native American groups over issues concerning the disposition of Native American holdings.
  • Sets goals and timetables and monitors progress reports on collections, ensuring reports are completed in a timely fashion and contain all relevant historical/ archaeological information and accession/catalogue data necessary.

More here. 

Position Announcement: Archeologist (Tribal Liaison), The Smithsonian Institution

The Archeologist serves as a museum representative to Native American tribal representatives in the mandated consultation phase of the repatriation process.

In this position, you will:

  • Conducts repatriation-related research and associated outreach activities related to the inventory, documentation, tribal consultation, and repatriation of human remains, archaeological objects and ethnographic objects from one or more subregions of the United States.
  • Generates and presents scholarly documentation necessary to make decisions concerning the repatriation of human remains and objects in the collections; and produces relevant database management records and written reports as needed.
  • Applies activities mandated by the repatriation provisions of the 1989 federal legislation establishing the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI Act, 20 U.S.C.Sec.80q [PL 101-185]) and its amendment in 1996 (PL 104-278).
  • Provides tribal consultations to include outreach activities that involves travel to Native American communities and to other locations beyond the immediate scope of repatriation.

More here.