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.

Proof of COVID vaccination, photo ID, and the use of masks are required of all visitors to BGC Gallery. Please see our visitor policies for all up-to-date COVID policies.

We are also pleased to extend complimentary need-based community tickets by request to all ticketed events. To learn more, please email [email protected].

We have opened registration for a limited in-person audience. Bard Graduate Center requires proof of vaccination and photo identification to enter the building. Guests are required to wear masks regardless of vaccination status.

This talk will also be available on Zoom. A link will be circulated to registrants by 4 pm on the day of the event. This event will be live with automatic captions.

Meet the Speakers

Ellen Enderle is a Brooklyn-based scholar of visual and material culture. She is a recent graduate of the Masters Program in the History of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture at the Bard Graduate Center in New York City. Prior to that she graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor’s degree in Art History. Working from an interdisciplinary perspective, her research explores the social and cultural dimensions of the worn object, with a specific focus on how it was made, worn, and experienced in order to reapproach and recover lost, overlooked, and marginalized histories. Recent essays have explored fashion and the wearable from the ancient world to the early twentieth century including Adorned in Gold: Religion, Personal Display, and Women’s Agency in Ancient Macedonia, The Materiality of Marriage, Medicine, and Magic: Interpreting the Byzantine Medico-Magical Tradition of Bloodstone Amulets, and Widow’s Weeds, Fashionable Black, and the Work of Mourning. She recently curated a digital exhibition entitled Reform/Refashion: Women’s Fashion Reform at the Turn of the Century, and has worked as a curatorial researcher and storyteller of the material object for collections such as The Walther Collection and Tatter Library and Journal.

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.