Western Science Seeks Cultural Knowledge

Western Science Seeks Cultural Knowledge

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Agua Caliente Cultural Museum Curator Dawn Wellman presents an exhibition on basket making techniques and tools to UCLA Master's students

Since 2006, the UCLA/Getty Master's Program in Archaeological and Ethnographic Conservation has maintained an exceptional relationship with the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, one in which conservation graduate students apply technical knowledge and cultural insights into the examination of museum objects. Every second year in a specialized course taught by Professor Ellen Pearlstein, UCLA Conservation students have enhanced the material documentation, answered questions about cultural attribution, and created more stable and exhibitable museum objects as a result of research and treatment steps.

The focus thus far has been on archaeological and historic basketry and other items made from plant fiber, ivory, painted wood and textiles. Past outcomes have permitted items to be placed on display, and in 2009 students prepared an exhibition of Agua Caliente Cultural Museum collections at the Young Research Center Library at UCLA. In 2011, students examined five historic baskets and one archaeological sandal, and described their work by preparing not only in-depth documentation for the museum archive, but images and text designed to inform the museum going public.

~Ellen Pearlstein