This event is part of “Conserving Active Matter: A Cultures of Conservation Research Project,” a collaboration between Bard Graduate Center, the Humboldt University (Berlin), and the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam). This initiative aims to bring new developments in materials science and new ways of thinking about matter to create new ways of thinking about the future of conservation. The project is articulated through semester-themed explorations along four axes: Indigenous ontologies (spring 2018), history (fall 2018), materials science (spring 2019), and philosophy (fall 2019).

The Indigenous ontologies working group considers the fact that diverse peoples of the world bring their own cultural values and orientations to the material realm: their own fundamental notions of what “the object” is and isn’t; what its proper and persistent relationships to humans and other-than-human beings might be; what protocols surround its conservation, if indeed it ought to be preserved at all. Thinking globally, we explore cases where Indigenous ontologies of “Active Matter” expand western scientific, aesthetic and philosophical paradigms around the collection, care, and exhibition of living cultural heritage—tangible and otherwise.


This event will include three short presentations followed by a moderated conversation.

Jamie Jacobs
Collections Assistant for the Rock Foundation, Rochester Museum and Science Center
The Orator’s Dilema: Wampum as Material, Media, and Memory

Rose Evans
Director of the ObjectLab, Auckland, New Zealand
Making Our Past Visible: Toi Moko and Our Connection with Whakapapa (Genealogy)

Sanchita Balachandran
Associate Director, The Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, and Senior Lecturer, Department of Near Eastern Studies, Johns Hopkins University
The Museum Was Like Heaven, All the Gods Being There: Approaches to the Preservation of Archaeological-Devotional Objects at the Madras Government Museum, India, in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

Moderated by Aaron Glass, Associate Professor, Bard Graduate Center



This event will be livestreamed. Please check back the day of the event for a link to the video. To watch videos of past events please visit our YouTube page.


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