Art of the Americas Revisited: What Does it Mean to Decolonise a Museum?




heritage; coloniality; decolonising museums; decolonising universities; decolonising knowledge; reflexive curatorship


The Art of the Americas exhibition (March – July 2018) at the Max Chambers Library, University of Central Oklahoma (UCO), USA, questioned the practices of assigning cultural objects to different academic disciplines and separate museums. The exhibition brought together diverse cultural objects from North, Central and South America. Using the exhibition as a threshold and a lens, this paper opens a broader conversation on decolonising museums that challenge the knowledge-building system in academic institutions. First, Shikoh Shiraiwa, curator, revisits Art of the Americas to re-examine his motives and positionality. Secondly, Olga Zabalueva dwells on the theoretical implications and importance of constantly re-assessing decolonial efforts. Third, we both explore how ingrained racial hierarchies have crystalised in certain academic disciplines. As a result, we further elaborate on the criticality of challenging institutionalised scholarship, concluding with theoretical pursuit of cultural and socially sustainable museum practice for the future.


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