More than twenty years ago, a group of leaders (the Community Advisory Board) living in and around the Puget Sound area, with strong ties to their Oceanic and Native Northwest heritages, came together with a purpose: working with Burke Museum staff, including Project Manager Erin Younger, former Curator of Native Art Robin Wright, and current Burke Executive Director Julie K. Stein, they set out to design a new kind of museum exhibit.
From its inception, Pacific Voices was meant to revitalize the public’s notion of these Pacific Northwest and Oceanic communities, to reveal them as vibrant, active, and thriving—not frozen in time, but rather “continually adapting . . . reaching deep into the past in order to guide their children towards the future,” as noted by the exhibit’s original curator-in-charge, Miriam Kahn.
In the end, they created an exhibit organized around the things their cultures have in common, and the ways in which cross-cultural themes build identity in individual communities. These themes included Languages and Stories, Teachers and Ancestors, and Ceremonies. They selected objects from the Burke’s collection to illustrate their stories, and commissioned new items if appropriate ones weren’t available.
The advisory board’s life experiences and understanding of their cultural heritage are woven through each of the exhibit’s storylines, conferring every element of Pacific Voices with authenticity and power, and infusing the displays with joy.
Article Source: Burke Museum