Carved “Bird Head” Cassowary Bone Dagger with Cord, Abelam culture, New Guinea, Aitape district early 20th century. Bone (cassowary tibia), cord (plant fiber). Courtesy of the Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History, 80.0/ 7054.

How do we care for, preserve, present, and contextualize bones, remains, and mummified bodies? And why do we do it? Join us for a fascinating conversation that explores the scientific, ethical, and curatorial aspects of working with human and animal remains in collections and exhibitions. Moderated by BGC graduate student Ellen Enderle and featuring a panel of experts including conservator Lisa Bruno, Professor Samuel J. Redman, and Conserving Active Matter curator Soon Kai Poh who will also share details about three objects in the exhibition related to this topic.


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Meet the Speakers

Lisa Bruno is the Carol Lee Shen Chief Conservator at the Brooklyn Museum, where she has been working since 1993. Objects conservation is her specialty. She has previously worked at the Art Institute of Chicago, and has had internships at The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and in private practice. She has a Master’s Degree in Art Conservation from the University of Delaware, Winterthur Museum Art Conservation Department. She is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation.

Soon Kai Poh
is a recent graduate of the dual MA/MS program in the History of Art and the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works at the Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, specializing in objects conservation with a particular interest in Asian and Near-Eastern works of art. He has completed internships and worked on projects in the conservation labs of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As part of his graduate training, he worked on-site at New York University’s Excavations at Aphrodisias in Turkey, and participated in multiple conservation projects at Villa La Pietra, New York University’s academic center in Florence, Italy.

His professional interests include the interpretive and technological implications of material culture arising from trans-geographical interactions, theory and practice in conservation, and in sharing the privilege of participating in the histories of objects with others. At Bard Graduate Center, he will continue to explore these multi-variate interests through the Conservation as a Human Science Fellowship, particularly in reconsidering the relationship between the conservator and the objects under their care, as definitions of the (former and) latter continue to shift and broaden.

Samuel J. Redman is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author of three books; Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums (Harvard, 2016), Prophets and Ghosts: The Story of Salvage Anthropology (Harvard, 2021), and The Museum: A Short History of Crisis and Resilience (NYU, 2022). He previously worked on NAGPRA and repatriation-related matters at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and Colorado History in Denver.