Thesis

Connecting collections: best practices and recommendations for the California State Indian Museum's basketry collection, Sacramento, California

The California State Indian Museum (SIM) in Sacramento, California has a collection of over 12,000 objects in storage, about one third of which are basketry. This basketry collection was not known to me until I started to work there as a graduate student assistant in 2011 at which time I realized that access was very limited. In this thesis, I investigated three other repositories as my case studies that successfully incorporated programs, which increased access to their collections in storage. These museums are the Indian Arts Research Center (IARC) at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the C. Hart Merriam Collection at the University of California at Davis, and the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology. Many of the programs discussed not only increased access, but also made their collections relevant to their respective communities by utilizing the New Museum Theory of inclusivity and collaboration. Many museums are starting to come around to the fact that they are not the sole authority over the objects in their collections any longer. If they do not start to relinquish the controls a little, they might risk becoming irrelevant to the people they are supposed to serve.

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