Mini Thesis Series: New Curatorial Methods
In my master’s thesis, “Transforming the Museum Space: Native Feminisms as Activism in “Hearts of Our People””, I examine the exhibition from 2019-2020 and its creation in spite of the historical and social context surrounding it. Perhaps just as importantly, I look at how an exhibition like this one—by employing the methods used in the creation of this show—can change how museum professionals go about and think about curation. These methods are focused on decentering settler colonialism in museum culture. I recognize that museums are monuments are colonization, so these three main methods employed go against general practice.
I’ll be splitting up these methods into smaller sections so make sure you check back for the other parts!
Method 1: The Advisory Board
“An advisory board is tantamount to the way that many Native and Aboriginal Nations conducted social and political business: with a group of women at the forefront.” The Advisory board that was implemented in the creation of the show because the curators, Dr. Jill Ahlberg Yohe and Teri Greeves (Kiowa) did not ‘have the expertise or the authority’ to speak on behalf of the Nations represented in the exhibition. Taking a step back and recognizing that the often-found singular voice present in exhibitions past, this is a huge step to decenter settler colonialism.
I argue that replacing a single voice with many is a method that pushes museum work toward activism. By being polyphonic, working with an advisory board takes the “responsibility and authority [away] from common museum practice stemming from white patriarchal cultural values. Through colonization, these values have gone from influence on existing cultures to systemic oppression of” communities of color, “cutting any other voices out.” In bringing people together, museums can better serve its community by bringing the community into the space where decisions are being made.
Sarah Hixson (she/her/hers) is an aspiring curator and educator focusing on DEAI and indigenization work and incorporating activism into museum practices. If you have questions for Sarah, please comment below or send an email to email@example.com.
 Sarah N Hixson, “Transforming the Museum Space: Native Feminisms as Activism in “Hearts of Our People””, pg. 22  Hixson, “Transforming the Museum Space”, pp. 22  Hixson “Transforming the Museum Space”, pp. 22