It is obvious enough that museum collections are a heritage resource for many people around the world, and therefore, that museums are places where people can go to reconnect with their roots, origins, forebears, predecessors.

It is less obvious perhaps that learning from one another about the things that museums safeguard can be a tangible, down-to-earth way for people of all walks of life and national origin to connect with one another.  

After all, good conversations do not just have to be about people or events, mundane, threatening, or remarkable.  They can also be about things, and about why things exist, how they are used, why they are important, and how they have stories to tell.

For further discussion, please see:

John Edward Terrell  (1991).  Museums and Modern Life:  "Mirror for Man" or "Door in the Wall"?  Invited paper, Taonga Maori Conference, New Zealand, November 18-28, 1990.  Pacific Arts 4: 8-13.

John Edward Terrell  (1991).  We want our treasures back.  In the Field (Bulletin of the Field Museum of Natural History) 62 (2): 14-15.

John Edward Terrell  (1993).  We Want Our Treasures Back.  Museums Journal 93 (3): 34- 36.

Partnerships with Chicago communities

Co-curating our collections with Chicago communities took an historic leap forward on Monday evening 28 October 28 2013 when museum staff formally "welcomed" the city's Filipino community at the marae (gathering place) of Ruatepupuke II (our New Zealand wharenui, or meeting house) as our new partners in the care, documentation, interpretation, exhibition, and financial support of the Museum's remarkable heritage collections of more than 10,000 items from the Philippines--most of which date before World War I. Speaking on behalf of the rest of the staff attending were J.P. Brown, Christine Giannoni, Jaap Hoogstraten, Debby Moskovits, Bill Stanley, and Monique Tarleton. Head of Anthropology Collections Jamie Kelly along with Gloria Levitt, Lisa Niziolek, Shelley Paine, and Amy Zillman from Collections and Science & Education were on hand with a table-top display of a fine selection of objects from different locales in the Philippines. (photo:  Jaap Hoogstraten)