The Elephant in the Room
At the 2016 American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting and Expo, a multi-disciplinary group of museum professionals came together to discuss the topic “The Elephant in the Room: What Can We Do with Our Ivory?” The session speakers provided an overview of the stricter rules and the evolving attitudes that are challenging museums that have ivory in their collections. Among the issues that were addressed: Can these institutions continue to accession ivory? Can ivory be loaned or used in traveling exhibits? Are resources available to determine if an object truly includes ivory? How can we provide interpretive context to the poaching crisis? Click the link above for a summary of the session and for a list of resources that were provided to conference attendees.
Curator: The Museum Journal is soliciting abstracts for a special issue devoted to "Ivory in the Museum." Deadline for abstracts is September 15, 2016. Click the link above to learn more about the special issue and the requirements for submission.
Smithsonian and the U.S. Government
There is a crisis in wildlife trafficking globally, and the federal government is responding in various ways following President Obama's Executive Order in 2014. The Smithsonian has multiple interests in ivory, from working with law enforcement agencies in the forensic analysis of ivory, to conducting field projects in conservation biology, and by housing and displaying many historic art and culture objects made from ivory.
The Office of the Deputy Undersecretary for Collections and Interdisciplinary Support (DUSCIS) has been involved in a discussion about how the Smithsonian manages ivory objects, and most importantly, how it creates educational opportunities to combat wildlife trafficking today. At the same time, the Smithsonian strives to appreciate the cultural and historical importance of past uses of ivory.
DUSCIS is working across all the science, history, art and culture museums and research units on possible future programming about ivory.
"The Big, the Bad, and the Beautiful"
On May 7, 2015 more than 125 people gathered at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo to discuss their research and to share sometimes differing perspectives on the timely and often sensitive topic of the conservation of elephants and the stewardship of ivory in multiple material culture contexts from across the Smithsonian. Click to read a summary of the Smithsonian Material Culture Forum’s 99th meeting, “The Big, the Bad and the Beautiful."