Museums, Religion, and the Work of Reconciliation and Remembrance

In their collections and their buildings, museums often carry more than just traces of religious or spiritual allusions. Entry points and custodians for a broad array of artifacts, museums curate and narrate “religion” for audiences that include the devout and the curious alike. As caretakers of artifacts held to have spiritual power among their communities of origin and as storytellers of contested narratives of nations, museums enter into obligations and relationships with objects and people. Increasingly, this requires museums to acknowledge the colonial and sometimes violent provenance of many of the things in their care.

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  • Was Konferenz | TagungMuseums, Religion, and the Work of Reconciliation and Remembrance
  • Wann bis (Europe/Berlin / UTC200)
  • Wo Jüdisches Museum Berlin
  • Anmeldung bei
  • Anmeldung bis 02.04.2019
  • Termin herunterladen iCal Datei herunterladen


Our workshop comes a time of heightened awareness of the need for repatriation of artifacts acquired through networks of colonial or state coercion, especially those belonging to Indigenous nations. At the same time, the contested notion of reconciliation is increasingly framed as a pathway to publicly remember (without necessarily repairing) national histories of exclusion, xenophobia, and violence. With a specific focus on how categories of religion and spirituality have become significant for new kinds of relationships between museums, objects, and communities, our workshop will ask how thinking about the spiritual claims associated with museum objects can help us to better understand the politics and possibilities of reconciliation and remembrance. Our conversation takes as one point of departure Ruth Phillips’ concept of the “second museum age,” a time when museums have come to confront the ongoing politics of their work of curation and storytelling, in part by building relationships with communities both near and far who assert spiritual connections with a museum’s objects or stories.

Featuring a public panel on Thursday evening and a two-day multidisciplinary and international workshop bringing together curators and scholars, “Museums, Religion, and the Work of Reconciliation and Remembrance” will galvanize a conversation about religion and public memory across theoretical, curatorial, and historical perspectives.


(open to the public)

18:30 – 19:00 Welcome

Pamela Klassen (University of Toronto), Monique Scheer (University of Tübingen), and Yasemin Shooman (Jewish Museum Berlin)

19:00 – 21:00 Keynote

Jisgang Nika Collison (Haida Gwaii Museum Kay Llnagaay)
Yahguudangang — To Pay Respect

Léontine Meijer-van Mensch (Jewish Museum Berlin)
Signification and the liquid museum: the Jewish and the ethnografic

Moderated by Sharon Macdonald (Humboldt University Berlin, CARMAH)

Not open to the public;
requires registration + confirmation (until April 1st to


9:00 – 10:30 Conservation and Spiritual Care

Maureen Matthews (Manitoba Museum, Winnipeg)
We Are NOT All Treaty People YET: Renewing Treaty Relationships at the Manitoba Museum

Hannah Turner (University of Leicester)
Digitizing What is Valued: How do we care for, protect, and respect the digital data of repatriated belongings?

Duane Jethro (CARMAH, Berlin)
Indigenous Knowledge Conservation and Spiritual Care as Nation-Building at //hapo Museum, Freedom Park, South Africa

10:45 – 12:15 Provenance and Ancestors

Cecile Fromont (Yale University)
Sins of the Ancestors? Collection, Provenance, Repatriation of African Objects

Yaniv Feller (Wesleyan University)
Native and Wandering Jews

Michal Friedlander (Jewish Museum Berlin)
Provenance hiccups and the definition of Jewish objects

Robin Gray (University of Toronto)
The Colonizing Properties of Property and the Transformation of Indigenous Cultural Heritage

12:15 – 13:45 Lunch

13:45 – 15:15 Display and Devotion

Ruba Kanaan (Aga Khan Museum, Toronto)
Exhibiting Islam or Exhibiting the Arts of Muslims? Collection Display and Reception at the Aga Khan Museum

Rebekka Habermas (University of Göttingen)
Exhibiting in Colonial Times: Silencing, Displaying and Making Religion

Laura Peers (Trent University)
Visiting with the Ancestors: the Indigenization of museums as ritual spaces

15:45 – 17:15 Acquiring and Relinquishing

Ines de Castro (Linden Museum, Stuttgart)
A Bible and a Whip: Complexities of Restitution Negotiations

Cara Krmpotich (University of Toronto)
Scarcity, Dispossession and Salvage: The Work of a Reconciliation Quilt to Think These with Care

Larissa Förster (CARMAH, Berlin)
Restitution: Between repair, reconciliation and commemoration


9:00 – 11:00 Optional Tour of the Jewish Museum Berlin with Miriam Goldmann, curator at the Jewish Museum Berlin

11:15 – 12:45 Curation and Stories
Peter Manseau (Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC)
Curating Echoes: Collecting the Past to Tell Stories for the Future

Courtney Bender (Columbia University)
Mrs. Rockefeller’s Exquisite Corpse

Christine Gerbich (CARMAH, Berlin)
Curating relationships – working with Muslim Youth in the Museum for Islamic Art in Berlin

12:45 – 14:15 Lunch

14:15 – 15:45 Objects and Stories
Alan Corbiere (Carleton University)
Thresholds of Sacrality: Contexts for exhibiting items of Anishinaabe significance

Thomas Thiemeyer (University of Tübingen)
(Dis-)Enchanting Objects: How Curators Attribute Values to Things

Marisa Karyl Franz (University of Toronto)
A Failed Acquisition: When a Yakut shaman’s coat was not collected

16:15 – 17:45 Belonging and Difference

Friedrich von Bose (Humboldt University Berlin)
On the question of (not) showing. Spirituality as a category of knowledge in the Humboldt Forum

Ayelet Schachar (Max Planck Institute, Göttingen)
Who Belongs? Legal and Cultural Barriers to Equal Membership

Alina Gromova (Jewish Museum Berlin)
Future memories. Multidirectional Heritage in Museums

18:00 – 18:30 Next Steps Planning


9:00 – 12:00 Optional Museum Tour


Anmeldung bei

Helen Franziska Veit

helen-franziska.veit[ at ]

Nähere Informationen

Helen Franziska Veit

helen-franziska.veit[ at ]