Western Science Seeks Cultural Knowledge
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.