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Exploring indigenous perspectives on museums

This research project investigates indigenous approaches to museums in an international comparative perspective in order to better understand and critically discuss the overall ‘museum’ concept.

She-zi Xiang Museum of Southern Paiwan, Taiwan. (Photo: Marzia Varutti)

About the project

All over the world growing numbers of indigenous communities are creating institutions devoted to the protection, display and preservation of their cultural heritage. Indigenous museums are today the springboards for indigenous rights claims, struggles for political self-representation, redressing historical wrongs and collective healing.

Yet indigenous museums remain little understood.

Knowing so little about this global, growing phenomenon is problematic because indigenous museums provide arenas for ground-breaking museological approaches inspired by indigenous perspectives. These are transforming mainstream museums, as evidenced by the claims to repatriation, the treatment of human remains and the development of new work protocols. This project will help forge a new code of ethics for museums, emerging from the demands advanced by Indigenous Peoples.

Understanding indigenous perspectives on museums is crucial if we are to understand how we best can transform our very idea of a museum and its social roles.


What are indigenous museums, and what are indigenous perspectives on museums?

The aim of this research project is to investigate indigenous approaches to museums in an international comparative perspective, in order to produce research outcomes that will help us to better understand and critically discuss the overall ‘museum’ concept.

This aim will be attained through the following objectives:

  • map the diversity of museological approaches in indigenous museums;
  • experiment with, and apply a novel interdisciplinary research methodology combining conventional museological research methods and indigenous research methods;
  • compare indigenous museum perspectives among different international case studies;
  • critically discuss and elaborate on this empirical material in order to produce new insights on indigenous perspectives on museums.


Published Feb. 9, 2017 9:43 AM - Last modified Feb. 9, 2017 10:56 AM