Samantha Alderson and Peter Whiteley will be giving a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Thursday, November 2, at 12:15 pm. Their talk is entitled “Over Land and Sea: The Journey of a Chief’s Chest back to Haida Gwaii from the American Museum of Natural History.”

In 2017, after months of preparation and planning, a historic carved and painted Haida Chief’s Chest traveled to Haida Gwaii off the coast of northern British Columbia on loan from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York. The chest was used prominently in a ceremonial potlatch for Gidansta, the hereditary chief of K’uuna Llnagaay (Skedans village), and then placed on view at the Haida Gwaii Museum for one year, where a replica will be carved by Gidansta’s sons, artists Gwaai and Jaalen Edenshaw. Dr. Whiteley and Ms. Alderson will present this innovative collaboration between the AMNH and the Haida Gwaii Museum, discussing the history of the chest, the curatorial and conservation efforts that made the collaboration possible, and describing the journey and the two days of potlatch ceremonies.


Samantha Alderson has been a Conservator in the Anthropology Division of the American Museum of Natural History since 1993. She received an MA in art history and archaeology, and an advanced certificate in conservation from the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, where she is now a lecturer, teaching advanced courses in objects conservation. Her research interests include adhesives, consolidants, and climate monitoring systems.

Peter Whiteley has been Curator of North American Ethnology in the Anthropology Division of the American Museum of Natural History since 2001. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University and Affiliated Professor for The City University of New York’s PhD Program in Anthropology. He received his PhD in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico.



This event is part of our “Cultures of Conservation” initiative, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.