NHA YT Channel: “Real Nantucket History”

The Youtube channel of the Nantucket Historical Association provided parts of its virtual exhibition from 2019. One clip, which I would like to recommend watching is the brief recollection of Nantucket during the American Revolution and its impact on the Island, the whaling industry and the Quaker Community in manifold ways with a distinct focus on the Rotch family.1 The nine short episodes had been produced by Ian Opaluch.

  1. Opaluch, Ian (2019): Real Nantucket History: The American Revolution, in: Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cECaaGTmXg, [Last Access: 21.2.2024]. []

An unusual sunrise: Maori Art and Culture at the Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin – article of 2014

In this blogpost, I have summarized an article of the german “Tagesspiegel” of 19.11.2014, which was written by Nicola Kuhn about the exhibtion of the Maori paintings of Gottfried Lindauer.1

In the early hours of a grey November day, an extraordinary ceremony began at the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin. Led by Patu Hohepa, a Maori kaumatua, an impressive press conference launched a spectacular exhibition.

The exhibition features portraits of Maori leaders by Gottfried Lindauer, a painter largely unknown in our art history. Originally from Pilsen in the Czech Republic, Lindauer emigrated to New Zealand in the 19th century and dedicated himself to portraying the indigenous people of what was then an endangered culture.

His detailed and respectful depictions of Maori culture have a vibrancy and dignity that is still impressive 150 years later. Lindauer’s respectful portrayal won the respect of the Maori, who commissioned him to paint portraits of themselves and their ancestors.

In the Alte Nationalgalerie, two worlds collide, a collision that encourages us to change our perspective and see the connection between cultures. The exhibition offers a new perspective on Aotearoa New Zealand’s indigenous culture and shows how interconnected our world is.

The exhibition also brings some of the artist’s spirit back to Europe. It is a moving moment that underlines both the importance of artistic heritage and the deep spiritual connection between Maori and their ancestors.

The Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin is hosting this exhibition as a tribute to Maori culture and as a memorial to an artist who captured this culture in his paintings. A fascinating glimpse into a world that inspires us to think differently and reminds us that art knows no boundaries.

  1. Maori-Porträts in der Alten Nationalgalerie, in: Tagesspiegel, https://www.tagesspiegel.de/kultur/der-tatowierte-geist-8113012.html, [Last Access: 11.12.2023] []

The vocabulary of a whaling voyage

In the total institution such as a ship, persons were owed little. Role and rule were owed everything.

Dening, Greg (1980): Islands and Beaches, Discourse on a Silent Island Marquesas 1774-1880, Honolulu, p. 159.

The Pacific historian Greg Dening described the life onboard of ships to be quite distinctive. The whaling sector, a distinct component of the maritime realm, possessed its own set of guidelines and regulations regarding the employment and living conditions.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum has described and summarized the most relevant aspects of this industry1 just follow this URL and enjoy reading!

  1. Life aboard, in: new bedford whaling museum, https://www.whalingmuseum.org/learn/research-topics/whaling-history/life-aboard, Last Access: 30.11.2023. []

Race against time to preserve records

In 2023, PARADISEC1, the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures, celebrates two decades as a vital online repository for the cultural heritage of endangered languages and musical traditions. Founded in 2003 and based at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the Archive focuses on preserving recordings from endangered regions such as Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Australia, with a particular emphasis on Oceania. The archive’s vast collection has grown over time and now includes audio and video content in 1,350 languages. With a focus on Oceania, the archive contains recordings of performances, narratives, songs and oral traditions – a staggering total of more than 15,700 hours of audio and 2,600 hours of video. This collection of over 200 terabytes offers a profound insight into indigenous cultural practices.

A pressing challenge for the archive’s team is the digitisation of analogue material dating back to the 1950s and 60s. These analogue recordings, which are prone to degradation, risk becoming unplayable after 2025. In contrast, digitised versions offer longevity and accessibility. The PARADISEC team is racing against time to ensure these records are preserved and accessible, especially to communities with limited bandwidth. A unique tool using portable Wi-Fi networks makes it easy to access digitised materials. The importance of PARADISEC goes beyond preservation; it serves as a bridge between past and present cultural practices. The archive is central to preserving the identities of Indigenous communities, underpinned by language and music. Steven Gagau, a Tolai man from Papua New Guinea, emphasises how PARADISEC empowers speaker communities, enabling them to access and engage with their cultural heritage.

Dr Amanda Harris, Director of PARADISEC’s Sydney Unit, highlights the creative potential unlocked by the preservation of language and song recordings. The archive not only preserves traditions but also inspires innovative uses for the future. Over two decades, the collection has grown in both content and community engagement, fostering a deeper connection between Australia and its Pacific neighbours.

Jodie Kell, audio engineer and manager of the PARADISEC laboratory in Sydney, highlights the challenges faced during the preservation process, including the fragile condition of some analogue tapes. Despite these hurdles, digitisation breathes life into fragile recordings and brings invaluable cultural artefacts back to life. The archive’s online accessibility ensures that recordings of cultural heritage are available to speaker communities and researchers alike. As technology evolves, PARADISEC remains at the forefront, exploring innovative ways to engage remote regions. Recent collaborations have highlighted the symbiotic relationship between archives and communities, demonstrating that reviving ancient practices through singing can be a creative, transformative endeavour.

  1. Paradisec (2023): Race against time to preserve pacific recordings, in: The National Tribune, “https://www.nationaltribune.com.au/race-against-time-to-preserve-rare-pacific-recordings/?fbclid=IwAR1yohHggDrLzgF4LVK2inGtKbd2eDfOg33LvV5gscNeuF65_R3_cbriA5Aedin.com/analytics/search-appearances/, [Last Access: 15.08.2023] []

Linden-Museum in Stuttgart

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the LindenMuseum in Stuttgart – Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde. Reason of my visit were two exhibitions:

The temporal LindenLab 3 exhibition:”Across Time, Place and People
Whakawhānaungatanga: Connecting taonga Māori

Between December 2022 and June 2023, this collection explores the collection of almost 150 Māori treasures from Aotearoa New Zealand. These treasures, including clothing, jewelry, weapons, carvings, and a carved house, have diverse origins and were acquired through gifts, purchases, and exchanges. Even though they have limited knowledge about their genealogy and history, they have great significance for Māori today. LindenLAB 3, a project with Māori researchers and experts, wants to make new connections and meaning by finding out where these taonga came from and showing how important they are in culture through creative presentations. The exhibit emphasizes the dynamic nature of the collection and its connections to individuals, neighborhood groups, educational institutions, and nations.

The Museum explains that the objects have arrived Stuttgart by somehow “winding paths”: “they were gifts from European travellers, acquired by patrons for the museum or taken over from other collections through exchange or purchase. Little or nothing is known about their whakapapa (genealogy) – the names of their makers, their former owners and their history in Aotearoa New Zealand. Yet the taonga are important and full of meaning for Māori today.”1

By examining historical and contemporary taonga Māori, the project show connections that link the collection to individuals, local communities, institutions, and nations. The focus is on presenting these relationships in a way that respects the cultural meanings, aesthetics, and artistic expressions of the objects. Each contributor brings their own perspective to the selected assemblages, emphasizing the ever-evolving dynamics of the living collection.

The LindenLab partners from Atoearoa New Zealand include:

Ngarino Ellis (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou) is an Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Auckland and author of A Whakapapa of Tradition: 100 years of Ngāti Porou carving, 1830-1930 (2016). She has led and coordinated the LindenLAB 3 partners since the project’s start.

Dougal Austin (Kāti Māmoe, Kāi Tahu, Waitaha) is curator of the Māori collections at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum in Wellington and author of Te Hei Tiki: an enduring treasure in a cultural continuum (2019).

Awhina Tamarapa (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Ruanui) worked as a curator at Te Papa Museum and is a Teaching Fellow for the Museum and Heritage Studies program at Victoria University Wellington where she is also completing her PhD. She is the editor and author of Whatu Kākahu / Māori Cloaks (2011).

Justine Treadwell is a PhD candidate in Art History at the University of Auckland. Her research focuses on 18th century Māori cloaks held in European collections. Previously she has worked at Auckland Museum on the storage of the Māori textile collection.

The permanent “Oceania” Collection:

The carefully curated collection features over 600 objects, ranging from ancient to contemporary, shedding light on the traditions, beliefs, and lifestyles of Oceania’s diverse communities. Spanning across the vast Pacific Ocean, Oceania encompasses an incredible diversity of cultures, each with its own unique heritage. The Linden Museum’s “Ozeanien” exhibition showcases this richness, offering visitors a glimpse into the customs, art, and spirituality of various Pacific Island groups, including Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia.

From ceremonial masks adorned with intricate carvings to intricately woven textiles and navigational tools, every artifact in the exhibition carries deep cultural significance. Each piece tells a story, illustrating the Pacific Islanders’ connection to their environment, ancestors, and mythologies. Through these artifacts, visitors gain a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship and artistic expression that characterizes Oceania’s cultural tradition.

  1. LindenLab 3 in: LindenMuseum Stuttgart, https://www.lindenmuseum.de/en/see/exhibitions/translate-to-englisch-lindenlab-3-across-time-place-and-people, [last Access: 14.6.2023] []
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