Re Imagining The Human Exploring Best Practice In Object Based Learning At The Ethnographic Museum

Re-Imagining the Human: exploring best practice in object-based learning at the ethnographic museum

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28/11/2018 - 29/11/2018
Time: All Day

Horniman Museum

Re-Imagining the Human: exploring best practice in object-based learning at the
ethnographic museum
Date: 28-29 November 2018
Venue: Horniman Museum and Gardens, London, UK

This 2-day conference/workshop will explore how object-based learning in the context of ethnographic collections can move beyond established notions of ‘self’ and ‘other’. Horniman Museum in London is an ideal venue for to examine this theme, as in June 2018 a new World Gallery of anthropology opens to the public, celebrating human creativity, imagination and adaptability, informed by a humanist anthropology. Humanist anthropology starts from the experience of human actors, addressing what it means to be human and to live a human life. In ethnographic museums it supports and imagines ways of public engagement and education and it
promotes activism.

Central to this conference/workshop is object based learning, a fundamental concern for ICOM ICME members and which the Horniman has developed a strong programme and reputation for. Object based learning sessions at ethnographic museums can draw strongly on people’s ability to employ all their available senses to enquire, deduce and draw conclusions as to what something is and its potential meanings and significance. ICME finds that all audiences can use a huge un-tapped bank of knowledge and past experiences relating to all their senses to understand what may initially be unfamiliar objects. Through combining object handling with other techniques including questioning, mindfulness or creative responses, individuals’ ideas, curiosity and evidence for understanding can be drawn out.

Objects inspire curiosity and lead people to explore what is important and interesting to them as individuals. They open up conversations and social interactions, trigger long-forgotten memories and get creative thoughts flowing. ICME are interested in the development and sharing of object based learning practice both within the museum sector and with diverse audiences and
communities. The conference/workshop will address among others the following
questions: How can:
– we draw on ethnographic collections to examine established notions of ‘Self’ and ‘Other’?
– we encourage dialogical exchange and multisensory engagement triggered by objects and promote critical reflections on ‘controversial’ issues entangled with ethnographic collections (‘primitivism’, colonial legacies such as racism and sexism)?
– we develop imaginative engagement with objects (through poetry, drawing, drama, dance storytelling, music etc) to help challenge stereotypes and to promote intercultural understanding?
– we work within object-based learning frames to sustain the development of community collaboration and ownership?

Re-imagining the Human: exploring best practice in object-based learning at the ethnographic museums; brings together several ICOM National Committees whose members share a common concern with the positive potential of ethnographic collections to impact on diverse audiences. ICME has been working with the named project participants: ICOM Germany, ICOM Norway, ICOM Croatia and ICOM Pakistan, over several years to address the questions raised in our project description.

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