A rare piece of Tahitian barkcloth (pictured above) has come to light at Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum as part of the West Midlands Museum Development Expert Eye programme. Museum Ethnographic Collections consultant Len Pole worked with staff to help identify objects within the collections, their significance and origin. Kerry Whitehouse, Registrar at the museum said, “The project has definitely helped fill in some of the gaps and has helped us understand what our next move is with regard to finding out more”.
Carrying on the momentum of Len’s work the museum team put in a successful bid to Art Fund with BBC Civilisations Festival which helped to redisplay and freshen up one of the cases in Gallery 2 at Worcester Museum. Alongside that they produced a public event that introduced the new display and provided activities for families including Bhangra dancers, Mehndi, Saree dressing workshops and crafts such as Maori poi making workshops and making a Maori cloak. There were also talks where visitors could learn about the recent work that has been undertaken and the discoveries made. These featured a few key objects, one of which was the amazing bark cloth.
Kerry added that, “In terms of how we as a museum work with this collection, it has raised topics such as colonialism and how best to get that across in today’s society. We have also discussed cultural appropriation and the tensions that surround that. These discussions are ones that we have not had previously and have been very rewarding in how we go forward working with this collection”. For more information on this project contact Kerry Whitehouse.
If you would like to be involved in future Expert Eye projects which link experts to a range of collection types please contact Helen Johnson.