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Webinar Series: Provenance Webinar Series
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Organized and hosted by the AAMC Foundation this live three-part series addresses current approaches, resources, and controversy surrounding the topic of provenance, paying particular attention to historically marginalized or colonial-era objects and collections.

6/10/2020 to 6/24/2020
When: June 10, 17, 24
12:00 - 1:15pm ET
Where: Zoom Webinar Platform
United States
Contact: Monica Valenzuela

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AAMC & AAMC Foundation Provenance Webinar Series

Live Webinars


June 10, 17 and 24, 2020


12:00pm - 1:15pm ET

This webinar series will cover the research, funding, and current events surrounding the topic of provenance. The series is designed to serve as a part two to the series offered by AAMC in June 2018, which gave an overview and resources on the topic. Those three conversations can be viewed here.

With increasing public conversations and scrutiny surrounding cultural heritage and its provenance, there is more pressure on organizations around the globe to ethically reevaluate their collections, acknowledge the legacy of colonial histories, and reconcile historic asymmetries of power. This webinar series focuses on this timely topic to examine the current approaches, resources, and controversies, paying particular attention to historically marginalized or colonial-era objects and collections.

The first webinar in the series, Approaches to Provenance, will demystify how someone might approach beginning to research an object at hand through live demonstrations. The next installment, Accessing Provenance Resources, will discuss ways to resource and make a case for provenance research, taking into specific consideration organizations who lack dedicated specialists or funding. The final webinar, Provenance in Current Events, will approach the topic through a discussion on current events, analyzing how organizations are handling scrutiny and leading with ethics at the forefront.

The program has been organized by David Saunders, Associate Curator, Department of Antiquities, J. Paul Getty Museum and Monica Valenzuela, Program Manager, AAMC & AAMC Foundation.

Additional information on the speakers for each webinar are below.


Approaches to Provenance

Live Webinar

Wednesday, June 10, 2020
12:00pm - 1:15pm ET


What are the steps of research for a given work of art? How might experts approach an object at hand? This session will breathe life into provenance research by featuring speakers specifically describing how they traced ownership of a specific object. Skills covered will include visual literacy, travel, language/translation, use of database/archives, tracing sales, consultation and involvement of native communities, working in non-traditional resources/documentation, and the importance of transparency, especially in difficult situations. It will also include a conversation as to the goal of research: is it to claim ownership or to tell the story of the object, with supportive conversations to the latter.



Najiba H. Choudhury, Assistant Collections Information Specialist & Provenance Researcher, Collections Management, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Najiba Choudhury works on provenance research relating to new acquisitions, WWII-related object research, and handles public requests for provenance information. She also assists in managing the collections database, and works on online digitization projects. She has a BA in Art History (specializing in Asian Art) and Economics from George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, and a Postgraduate Certificate in Antiquities, Trafficking, Art Crime, and Repatriation from the University of Glasgow. She was a participant in the German/American Provenance Research Exchange Program on Nazi-Era Art in 2019.



Lynn Rother, Lichtenberg-Professor for Provenance Studies, Leuphana University Lüneburg

Before joining Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany, Dr. Rother oversaw provenance research at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, 2015–19, and held distinct research positions at the State Museums in Berlin, 2008–14, working on all facets of World War II-era provenance. Dr. Rother holds a master’s degree in art history, economics, and law from University Leipzig and a Ph.D. from Technical University Berlin. Her academic research was supported by Fellowships of The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and the German Historical Institute in Moscow. Her published doctoral thesis on art as collateral during the Nazi-era (Kunst durch Kredit, de Gruyter, 2017) received the prize “Geisteswissenschaften international.



David Saunders, Associate Curator, Department of Antiquities, J. Paul Getty Museum; Moderator

David Saunders is Associate Curator of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Since joining the museum in 2008, he has curated eight exhibitions, most recently Underworld: Imagining the Afterlife. He obtained his doctorate in Classical Archaeology from Oxford University, and his current research interests include Greek and South Italian vase-painting, ancient bronzes and the history of collecting and restoring antiquities. He is co-editor of The Restoration of Ancient Bronzes: Naples and Beyond (2013); Dangerous Perfection: Ancient Funerary Vases from Southern Italy (2016); and the conference volume Collecting and Collectors from Antiquity to Modernity (2018). 



Vanessa von Gliszczynski, Curator, South East Asia, Weltkulturen Museum

Vanessa von Gliszczynski is curator for South East Asia at the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt, Germany. Originally trained as an ethnomusicologist at the University of Cologne, she specialized in musics and popular cultures of Indonesia. Working in Jakarta for about three years she became acquainted with the country’s recent cultural and political diversity. At the Weltkulturen Museum she was the main-curator of the exhibition "THE COMMON THREAD. The warp and weft of thinking" (2016-17) and co-curator of " COLLECTED. BOUGHT. LOOTED? Case Studies from a Colonial and National Socialist Context" (2018-19).



Accessing Provenance Resources

Live Webinar

Wednesday, June 17, 2020
12:00pm - 1:15pm ET


This discussion will discuss resources available to support and make the case for provenance research. This session will cover training and professional development programs, funding methodologies, and other recent strategies employed to garner advocacy and support. How do organizations without a provenance specialist or access to first-hand resources engage in research? Are there creative ways to include provenance projects in general budgets, such as considering one object at a time versus an entire collection? How can sharing information, even if not perfect or complete be beneficial? And, how do fields, previously underserved in the western museum model, approach and advocate for provenance research? How can we change the model and be inclusive of engaging and welcoming non-traditional resources?

Larissa Förster, Head of Department for Cultural Goods from Colonial Contexts, The German Lost Art Foundation

Dr. Larissa Förster is a social anthropologist and head of the newly established Department for Cultural Goods and Collections at the German Lost Art Foundation in Berlin/Magdeburg. She has worked on the history, memory and legacy of colonialism in Europe at the Centre for Advanced Studies Morphomata, University of Cologne and at the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage, Humboldt University. Her scholarship and research focus on the memory of colonialism in Namibia, on the nexus between colonialism and the formation of ethnographic museums and collections in Europe, and on the return/restitution of objects and the repatriation of human remains from European collections to their countries/communities of origin.

Alison Gilchrest, Director of Applied Research and Outreach, Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage; Moderator

Alison Gilchrest is the Director of Applied Research and Outreach at the Yale Institute for the Preservation for Cultural Heritage. Between 2005 and 2019, she architected and led the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s grant portfolio for Art History, Conservation, and Museums in the Arts and Cultural Heritage funding program.  Prior to joining Mellon, she held art historical research and conservation positions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Erica P. Jones, Associate Curator of African Arts, Fowler Museum at UCLA

Dr. Erica P. Jones is the Associate Curator of African Arts at the Fowler Museum at UCLA.  She received her Ph.D. in Art History at UCLA, specializing in African art. Since joining the Fowler Museum in 2015, Jones has organized multiple exhibitions, among them: Pantsula 4 LYF (2017), Meleko Mokgosi: Bread, Butter, and Power (2018), Inheritance: Recent Video Art from Africa (2019), and On Display in the Walled City: The Nigerian Pavilion at the British Empire Exhibition 1924-1925 (2019). Her publishing has been concentrated on the arts and museums of the Grassfields, and she is the author of the forthcoming book accompanying the exhibition Bread, Butter, and Power. 



Lynley McAlpine, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow, San Antonio Museum of Art 

Lynley J. McAlpine joined the San Antonio Museum of Art in 2017 as the Association of Art Museum Directors/Kress Foundation Fellow for Provenance Research. She is currently SAMA’s Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow, researching the history of the Art of the Ancient Mediterranean World and European Art collections. Dr. McAlpine previously held positions at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology as postdoctoral fellow in Roman archaeology and curatorial assistant, and she has published articles on painting from Pompeii and exotic marble in ancient Roman architecture. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan.





Provenance in Current Events

Live Webinar

Tuesday, June 24, 2020
12:00pm - 1:15pm ET


Most provenance records start when an object hits the shores of North America and Europe, therefore most records are incomplete and do not share the full history of an object. Standards and policies, such “free, prior and informed consent,” provide frameworks for organizations to work with communities in the research and evaluation of their collections and archives. How can organizations acknowledge incomplete or unknown acquisition records? How can the placement of objects in our collections be shift from a claim of ownership to an opportunity to form new relationships? How can repatriation be seen as healing? Join this webinar to learn from organizations addressing these current issues facing the field by using new methods in provenance research to reclaim ownership and retell history.


Nii O. Quarcoopome, Department Head for the Arts of Africa, Oceanian, and Indigenous Americas, Detroit Institute of Arts; Moderator

Nii Quarcoopome holds a doctorate in art history from the University of California, Los Angeles. He joined the Detroit Institute of Arts in 2002 as Curator of African Art and department head for Africa, Oceania, and Indigenous Americas. He recently completed his tenure as Co-Chief Curator, which he held concurrently with a shared curatorship at the Nelson Atkins Museum (Kansas City, MO) from 2012 to 2016. Quarcoopome has directed and contributed to successful African gallery reinstallations at several major museums and boasts the American Association of Museums' highest honors for his 2010 groundbreaking exhibition Through African Eyes: The European in African Art, 1500-Present. 



Roslyn A. Walker, Senior Curator of the Arts of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific and The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art, Dallas Museum of Art

Roslyn A. Walker, Ph.D., has served as Senior Curator of the Arts of Africa, the Pacific, and the Americas and the Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art at the Dallas, Museum of Art since December 2003. She was formerly director of the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution from January 1997 until June 2002. Dr. Walker, who joined the museum’s curatorial department in 1981, was previously the senior curator. Prior to that appointment, she was director of the University Museums, Illinois State University at Normal and curator of its ethnographic art collection (1975-1981). She was also curator of collections for the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan in Nigeria (1973-1975). During the course of her career, Dr. Walker has organized numerous exhibitions and published exhibition catalogues and books, including Olowe of Ise: A Yoruba Sculptor to Kings (1998), a catalogue raisonné, The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art (2009), and The Power of Gold: Asante Royal Regalia from Ghana (2018). 


Claudia Nissley, President, C. Nissley Environmental Consultants and program analyst, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

Claudia Nissley specializes in cultural heritage laws.Her career includes positions as executive manager for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Wyoming Governor’s appointment as the State Historic Preservation Officer and teaching classes on cultural resource laws. She has worked on projects throughout the United States from New England to the west coast and most states in between, and as an anthropologist and archaeologist in Guatemala, Mexico and Saint Lucia. Nissley authored “Consultation and Cultural Heritage; Let Us Reason Together,” contributed to an international volume, “A Companion to Cultural Resource Management, and “Integration of Cultural Impact Assessments into Environmental Analysis.” 

Hilke Thode-Arora, Head of Department, Oceania, and Provenance Research Liaison Officer, Museum Fünf Kontinente (Five Continents Museum), Munich

Hilke Thode-Arora, PhD, is a German social and cultural anthropologist. Specializing in Oceania, her research interests lie with material culture and the history of museum collections, interethnic relations and ethnic identities, images and stereotypes. She has held an Honorary Fellowship at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, conducting fieldwork with the Ethnological Museum in Berlin, and was the curator for the Pacific collections at the Übersee-Museum in Bremen before becoming the Head of the Oceania Department / Curator for Pacific Collections and Anthropology at the Museum Fünf Kontinente / Five Continents Museum in Munich in 2017. Her research projects and scholarship are grounded in long-term fieldwork in New Zealand, Samoa and Niue in close collaboration with the Samoan and Niuean communities. 


Julian Siggers, Williams Director, Penn Museum 

Julian Siggers joined the Penn Museum as Williams Director in 2012. He came to Philadelphia from the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, where he was vice president of programs, education, and content communication. He has also served as director of the Institute for Contemporary Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum and as head of narrative and broadcast development at the United Kingdom’s National Museum of Science and Industry in London. Dr. Siggers was an archaeology columnist and on-air television host for seven years with the Discovery Channel, Canada. He taught prehistoric archaeology at the University of Toronto, where he earned his Ph.D. with a specialization in Near Eastern prehistoric archaeology. He also holds an M.A. in prehistoric archaeology and B.A. with honors in archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology at University College London.

Vinnie Nørskov, Associate Professor of Classical Archaeology and Director of the Museum of Ancient Art and Archaeology, Aarhus University, Denmark

Vinnie Nørskov has been responsible for the study collection at Aarhus University since 2004 and works with making the Classical past relevant in present day Denmark. Her research focuses on the interelation between collecting, trade and research. She has also been involved in the ethics of museum work as a member and chair of ICOM Denmark from 2005 to 2017.


The program is organized and presented by the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) Foundation. The information presented here is subject to change without notice. The organizers assume no responsibility for any errors that may appear here, and in no event shall the organizers be liable for incidental or consequential damages arising from use of this document or other program-related material. This document and parts thereof must not be reproduced or copied without the organizers providing written permission, and contents thereof must not be imparted to a third party nor be used for any unauthorized purpose.

All registrations are non-refundable. 

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