Published on March 9, 2014
Provenance: Objects as Sources of History ALLI RICO HISTORY CAMP 2014, CAMBRIDGE, MA
What is provenance? Provenance The origin or source of something Information regarding the origins, custody, and ownership of an item or collection1 Vital to museum collections Basics of provenance can be found in most museum collections management systems
Objects as Historical Sources Historical objects are primary source documents – you just have to dig! Any object can be a source of history Write down every question, follow every lead Ask yourself: WHAT is the object? WHERE was the object made/where did it come from? WHO made it? WHY was it made? WHEN was it made? HOW was it made/HOW did it get here?
What can objects tell us? Portrait paintings Give insights to historical themes and styles Example: John Singer Sargent Photographs Literally capture a moment in time Ask: what was the motivation behind the photograph? Anthropological objects Reveals racism, ignorance How foreign cultures were viewed at certain time periods Example: Toi moko and Maori culture ANY object can be a source of historical information!
Example: Fighting African Elephants What: taxidermied male African elephants (Loxodonta africana) Where: Aberdare Range, Kenya Now at the Field Museum, Chicago Why: scientific study, display When: 27 July 1906 Photo: © The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL. GN83723c Who: Carl Akeley How: shot, skinned, mounted.
What questions does this prompt? These questions will guide your research!
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Contact me! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @alli_rico Interesting sources: MFA Provenance Provenance Mapping Project from NEMA’s 2013 Conference (project to do with students)
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