Critical museology and curatorial practice; the history of museums and museum anthropology, visual and performative arts and storytelling.
My research and publications focus on exhibitions, collections history, public and performing arts and storytelling. I have curated exhibitions and art installations in the United Kingdom, Portugal, the United States and Canada. My recent books include the edited volume Bodies of Enchantment: Puppets from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas (2021) and the monograph Mischief Making: Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Art, and the Seriousness of Play (2021) which explores the intersections of oral narratives and graphic practice in the work of Yahgulanaas, the celebrated Haida manga artist. My latest exhibition, Shadows, Strings and Other Things: The Enchanting Theatre of Puppets, and its digital counterpart won the 2020 Canadian Museum Association’s award for outstanding exhibition of cultural heritage and the 2021 Michael Ames Prize for Innovative Museum Anthropology awarded by the American Anthropological Association’s Council of Museum Anthropology. http://www.shadowstringthings.com
I teach courses on museums, heritage and memory and art and aesthetics with a focus on multisensorial practices.
- (2021) Mischief Making: Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Art and the Seriousness of Play. Vancouver: UBC Press. https://www.ubcpress.ca/mischief-making
- (2021) editor, Bodies of Enchantment: Puppets from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. Vancouver: Figure 1/UBC (256 pages, 150+ illustrations).
- (2021) Bodies of Enchantment: The Backstory. In Bodies of Enchantment: Puppets from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, edited by Nicola Levell. Vancouver: Figure 1/UBC, pp. 1-26.
- (2021) Museum as Imaginarium: Collectors, Puppet Makers and Puppeteers. In Bodies of Enchantment: Puppets from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, edited by Nicola Levell. Vancouver: Figure 1/UBC, pp. 27-77.
- (2021) “Digital Atmospheres: Shadows, Strings and Other Things,” Puppetry International, Spring 049: 36-9.
- (2020) “Cloud Exhibitions”- Museums in the Pandemic: A Survey of Responses on the Current Crisis. Museum Worlds: Advances in Research, Volume 8(1): 111-134.
- (2020) with Osorio, Shelton, Marsh, Isaac and Suzuki, Interruptions: Challenges and Innovations in Exhibition-Making: The Second World Museologies Workshop, National Museum of Ethnology (MINPAKU), Osaka, December 2019. Museum Worlds: Advances in Research, Volume 8(1): 168-187.
- (2020) Radiating Biographies in Postcard Forms: Ursus, on the Earth and in the Sky. American Anthropologist, Multimodal Anthropologies, Special Section: Postcards. (digital)
- (2019) Shadows, Strings & Other Things: Puppet Makers and Puppeteers. Vancouver: UBC MOA, pp.44.
- (2018) with Jisgang Nika Collison. “Curators’ Talk: A Conversation,” BC Studies (199, special issue: Indigeneities and Museums: Ongoing Conversations), edited by Caitlin Gordon-Walker and Martha Black, 53—79.
- (2018) “Reconciliation Pole.” In Memory, edited by Philippe Tortell, Mark Turin and Margot Young. Vancouver: Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies / UBC Press, 65—75.
- (2017) “Lucha Libre Masks and the Marvellous Real: In and Out of the Ring, the Reel, the Still.” In From Carnival to Lucha Libre: Mexican Masks and Devotions. Do Carnaval à Luta Livre. Máscaras e Devoções Mexicanas, edited by Nicola Levell and Anthony Shelton, 138-191. Lisbon Museum of Lisbon.
- (2017) with Anthony Shelton. “Introduction.” In From Carnival to Lucha Libre: Mexican Masks and Devotions. Do Carnaval à Luta Livre. Máscaras e Devoções Mexicanas, edited by Nicola Levell and Anthony Shelton, 20—29. Lisbon Museum of Lisbon.
- (2016) The Seriousness of Play: Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. London: Black Dog Publishing. (pp. 160, 128 b/w and colour plates).
- (2015) Paolozzi’s Lost Magic Kingdoms: The Metamorphosis of Ordinary Things. In Jeffery, Celina (ed.), Artists as Curators. Bristol: Intellect Publishing.
- (2013) Coppers From the Hood: Haida-Manga Interventions and Performative Acts. Museum Anthropology 36(2): 113-127.
- (2013) Site-specificity and Dislocation: Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas and his Haida-Manga Meddling. Journal of Material Culture 18(2): 93-116.
- (2013) Introduction: A Baroque Aesthetic. In The Marvellous Real: Art from Mexico, 1926-2011, edited by Nicola Levell. Vancouver: Figure 1 Publishing/UBC Museum of Anthropology and Monterrey: FEMSA, pp.10-15.
- (2013) A Chronicle of the Marvelous Real: Through Six Dimensions of an Exhibition. The Marvellous Real: Art from Mexico, 1926-2011, edited by Nicola Levell. Vancouver: Figure 1 Publishing/UBC Museum of Anthropology and Monterrey: FEMSA, pp.60-137.
- (2013) Beyond Tradition, More than Contemporary: Four Northwest Coast Artists and Citizens Plus. In Urban Thunderbirds: Ravens in a Material World, edited by Nicole Stanbridge. Victoria: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
- (2000) Oriental Visions. Exhibitions, Travel and Collecting in the Victorian Age. London and Coimbra: The Horniman Museum and the Museu Antropológico da Universidade de Coimbra.
- (2001) The poetics and prosaics of making exhibitions. A personal reflection on the Centenary Gallery. Antropologia Portuguesa, Vol 18, pp.151–194.
- (2001) The Translation of Objects. R. and M. Davidson and the Friends’ Foreign Mission Association, China, 1890-1894. In Collectors. Individuals and Institutions, edited by Anthony Shelton. London and Coimbra: The Horniman Museum and the Museu Antropológico da Universidade de Coimbra, pp.129–161.
- (2001) Scholars and Connoisseurs, Knowledge and Taste. The Seligman Collection of Chinese Art. In Collectors. Expressions of Self and Other, edited by Anthony Shelton. London and Coimbra: The Horniman Museum & Garden and the Museu Antropológico da Universidade de Coimbra
- (2000) Reproducing India. International Exhibitions and Victorian Tourism. In Souvenirs. The Material Culture of Tourism, edited by Michael Hitchcock and Ken Teague. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd, pp.36–51.
- (1998) (co-authored with Shelton, A.) Text, Illustration and Reverie. Some Thoughts on Museums and Education. In Journal of Museum Ethnography, no.10, pp.15–34.
Select Awards + Grants
(2020) UBC Public Humanities Hub Scholar
(2020) Canadian Museum Association, outstanding exhibition of cultural heritage for Shadow, Strings & Other Things: The Enchanting Theatre of Puppets.
(2019-20) CUES (Community-University Engagement Support) Exploration Fund. Project: Celestial Knowledge: Haida Knowledge and Stories of the Night Sky
(2018-19) SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) Connection Grant. Project: Decolonizing the Night Sky: Celestial Stories and Art.
(2016-18) SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)-Insight Development Grant. Project: Postcolonial Aspirations: Anthropology Museums and Contemporary Art as Cultural Critique.
(2016-17) Faculty of Arts-HSS (Humanities and Social Sciences) Research Grant. Project: Museum Acts: Speeches and Spectacles, Quai Branly Museum, Paris.
(2015) BC Arts Council. Visual Artists and Critics Grant for Writing.
I am cover curator for the journal BC Studies (https://bcstudies.com/)
Select front covers:
No. 211: Fall 2021: Reconciliation Pole (2017) by 7idansuu James Hart.
No. 210:Summer 2021: Tribute II (2017) by Yvonne Wakabayashi.
No. 208: Winter 2020: Doppelgänger (2019) by Stan Douglas.
No. 207: Autumn 2020: The Future Has Arrived – Aatl ’aan K’atgwaa tluu. k_aatlaagang (2018) by Derek Edenshaw (Khils Guula Gaayas) and Dedos (Nelson Garcia)
No. 206: Summer 2020: W(e)aves 0.x 熾 (2016-2020) by Sammy Chien 簡上翔
No. 205: Spring 2020: Biidaaban (2018) by Amanda Strong / Spotted Fawn Productions.
No. 203: Autumn 2019: Resilience (2018) by Andy Everson (Salish & Kwakwaka’wakw).