Conference for Museum Professionals


February 17, 18 and 19, 2021
Anchorage Museum via zoom


The Anchorage Museum is pleased to host a virtual international convening for museum professionals. Through presentations and conversation, in multiple sessions over three days (participate in one or all), we examine the relevance of museum art collections to compelling issues such as climate change, the environment and decolonization and Indigeneity. Together, we will think about ways to connect to communities and to each other.

This is the first in a series of virtual convenings and is delivered via Zoom. Please use the following links to participate:

Feb. 17:

Feb. 18:

Feb. 19:


For more information, contact cindy burrill
presenters with questions about technology may contact cody carver


Conference Schedule


All times indicated are Alaska Standard Time (AST)
Convenings held via Zoom


February 17, 2021

9 a.m.

Introduction and welcome by Julie Decker, Director/CEO, Anchorage Museum

Remarks from Terry Carbone, Program Director for American Art, The Henry Luce Foundation


9:30 - 10 a.m.

Ways of Seeing into Climate Change 

Presenter: Alexander Debono, University of Malta 

In 1972, John Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’ engaged with the more traditionalist view of art history to expose the ways and means how art reveals the social and political systems within which it was conceived. Close to half a century later, the art museum has come of age to acknowledge Berger’s perspectives but has yet to significantly rethink the ways and means of how the past can also be understood as a repository of layered meanings informed by the present and foreseeable future. As changing landscapes take time to get noticed, the art museum can champion the cause of climate change through a bespoke interpretative approach that can go beyond the aesthetic relevance and significance of its art collections.


10 - 10:30 a.m.

Climate Change & Museums 

Presenter: Miranda Massie, Director, The Climate Museum

A discussion of The Climate Museum’s work over its first three years to inspire collective action on the climate crisis through interdisciplinary programming that seeks to build community and engagement and elevate just solutions.


10:30 - 11 a.m.

Stories of Extraction 

Presenter: Bridget McKenzie, Creative Curator, Climate Museum UK

A presentation of the work and principles of Climate Museum UK, with particular focus on Stories of Extraction, an enquiry enabled by the inaugural Activist Museum Award, and an investigation the idea of extractivism and the possibilities of non-extractive digital collecting, framing decolonization as an environmental issue, and sharing of ways that digital approaches could increase engagement with activist audiences and put 'an eco lens' on collections.


11 - 11:20 a.m.



11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.



1 - 1:30 p.m.

We Belong Here 

Presenter: Joanne Northrup, Curatorial Director and Curator of Contemporary Art, Nevada Museum of Art

Extreme environments—from the Arctic Circle to outer space—have long provoked curiosity and wonder. In more recent times, these seemingly uninhabitable places have attracted attention as potential sites for development, future migration and colonization. With the growing reality of climate change, more environments are now becoming extreme. Changing weather patterns increasingly impact the daily lives of many people. In the western United States, 2020 was marked by unprecedented wildfires and unhealthy air from the smoke. According to The New York Times, 19% of the world could be a barely livable hot zone by 2070. Climate migration has already begun, but where can displaced people go? One thing is for certain: Rather than looking to the past for solutions, we must think radically, and take into consideration the fragility of our planet as well as our place in the universe. Armed with this awareness, artists, designers, and engineers have worked across disciplines to power innovation, question existing systems, and seek visionary solutions to help navigate the future of extremes. These practitioners help us to understand our connection to this world and other worlds. They tackle difficult concepts making the inaccessible accessible, and the invisible visible. "We Belong Here" is the title of an exhibition curated by JoAnne Northrup and drawn from the Nevada Museum of Art's permanent collection.


1:30 - 1:45 p.m.

Film by Robert R. Janes, Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice


1:45 - 2:30 p.m.

Open Conversation and Discussion on Museums and Climate


February 18, 2021

9 a.m.



9:10 - 9:30 a.m.

Democratize, Decolonize, Participate 

Presenter: Nicklas Larsen, Senior Advisor and Head of Initiatives, Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies 

How public institutions have an opportunity to provide new meeting places, to become community platforms that amplify public opinion and transform their audiences into co-creating participants, challenging the inadequate imaginary of what it means to be human in the 21st century and beyond. Through this presentation of perspectives and local experiences, museums will be inspired to facilitate broader participation in futures thinking.


9:30 - 10 a.m.

Un-Highlighting Iconic Works from Museum Collections

Presenter: Charis Gullickson, Curator, Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum

A decolonial analysis of the French painter François-Auguste Biard’s Le Pasteur Læstadius instruisant des Lapons (1840). A highlight at the Northern Norway Art Museum in Romsa/Tromsø, Biard’s work represents the pastor Lars Levi Læstadius (1800–1861) preaching to a group of Sámi people outside their goahti in mid-winter. Exhibited at the Salon in 1841, the painting originates in sketches Biard did during his travels with the French expedition La Recherche to Scandinavia and Spitzbergen in 1839. Taking this “centerpiece” from the Northern Norway Art Museum’s collections as my reference point, Gullickson considers the original colonial context in which it was painted.


10 - 10:30 a.m.

White Nostalgia:
Eustace Paul Ziegler & the Place Stories of Seattle, Alaska and the Frye Art Museum

Presenter: David Strand, Associate Curator, Frye Art Museum

Amidst the changing tides pushing museums to expand and rebalance their perspectives beyond a white-male dominated Western canon, how do we as museum professionals position works that no longer feel as relevant? The works of Eustace Paul Ziegler, one of the most celebrated painters of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest from its gold-rush period to statehood in 1959, are one such example. While at first glance Ziegler’s images are easily consumed due to their conventionality and familiar subject matter, their ideological ingredients are no longer so easily digested. This presentation will call necessary attention to some of the larger cultural ideas underpinning Ziegler’s work, particularly the ways whiteness and white nostalgia shaped his representations of remote wilderness, white pioneers, and Alaska Natives. In particular, his work also becomes a means to look more closely at the significant role Alaska and indigenous peoples and cultures played in shaping Seattle’s civic identity within the American landscape.


10:30 - 11 a.m.

Decolonizing Museum Collections
Presenter: Monica Shah, Deputy Director, Conservation and Collections, Anchorage Museum

Across the country, calls for decolonizing museums and collections are vocal. Ideas that had once been quiet contemplations are now being broadcast on a national and international level. This movement and climate in which we find ourselves demands new ways of thinking and new approaches to implementing institutional missions. In the context of the museum, new ways of approach are needed to bring equity and inclusion to our collective history. Decolonizing the museum can only be successful through the re-examination of collecting policies and how access is granted, and to whom. In response, the Anchorage Museum has evolved its relationship with artists, creators, communities, and all researchers in an effort to move towards decolonizing its collections.


11 - 11:30 a.m.

Learning from Artists, Listening to Communities and Researching What Hasn't Been Written Down

Presenter: Francesca Du Brock, Chief Curator, Anchorage Museum

Using the recent Anchorage Museum exhibition Extra Tough: Women of the North as a lens for considering decolonizing museum practice, Chief Curator Francesca Du Brock explores how artists and changemakers within in this exhibition challenge colonial and patriarchal norms and orient viewers to ways of perceiving Northern places grounded in ethics of reciprocity, care, and sustainability. From research to community outreach to programming, this presentation will explore how these ethics might also influence the work we do as storytellers within institutional settings. 


11:30 a.m. - Noon

Decolonizing the Archives:  What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

Presenters: Arabeth Balasko, Archivist, and Julie Varee, Community Outreach Archivist, Anchorage Museum

American writer, Raymond Carver's 1981 collection of short stories, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love examines complex, compelling expressions of love. Making it possible for people from diverse communities to tell their stories through archives is as complex and compelling in its expression of love of community members, and we consider the language used in descriptions of materials and community member engagement as vital to meaningful archival work.


Noon - 1 p.m.



1 - 1:30 p.m.

Work in Progress: Exhibition Development at the RISD Museum

Presenter: Laurie Ann Brewer, Associate Curator, Department of Costume and Textiles

RISD Museum

Sealskin: lustrous, contested, life-sustaining, luxury, “U.S. Government certified Sealskin,” banned commodity. An important Indigenous material of physical protection and fuel, to a disputed dietary component of food sovereignty, to environmental racism and arctic ecology, Sedna (working title) highlights the story of sealskin and the RISD Museum’s commitment that art via material and cultural histories can disrupt colonial legacies. The project seeks to offer the RISD community new avenues of engagement with a culturally sensitive material and to disrupt design practices such as cultural appropriation and instead offer cultural appreciation to burgeoning artists in the RISD community as well as the public at large.


1:30 - 2 p.m.

Dena'ina Decolonization: Recognizing and Acknowledging the Dena'ina Materials within the Anchorage Museums Collections

Presenter: Aaron Leggett, Senior Curator, Anchorage Museum

A discussion of the steps that have been taken by the Anchorage Museum to pay special attention to its Dena'ina collection and how these steps can serve as a model for other indigenous collections held at the Anchorage Museum and other museums


2 - 2:30 p.m.

The New Museum without Walls: Rethinking the Function of Museum Collections through Community Collaborations 

Presenter: Janet Northey, Collections Manager, Anchorage Museum

If we as educators, cultural advocates, and museum specialists support the idea of expanding perspectives and being inclusive of marginalized groups, we must reconsider how we provide access to material culture in museum collections. A look at how the Anchorage Museum is working towards decolonizing its collections through a diverse series of collections-related programs focusing on the social relationship of objects and intentionally held outside of museum walls.


2:30 - 3 p.m.



February 19, 2020


9 - 9:10 a.m.



9:10 - 9:30 a.m.

Rethinking Museums

Presenter: Bodil Kjelstrup, Acting Director/Head of Administration, Nordnorsk Kuntsmuseum

In a rapidly changing world, the role of the museums is being challenged, externally and internally. Often thought of as slow-moving institutions, museums are now asked, confronted and anticipated to be able to portray a multitude of perspectives reflecting a broader and more inclusive society. The power of art itself as a constant agent of change needs to be followed by a self-reflection of the role of the institution. By attempting to redefine the power of definition and the history of cultural dominant storytelling, the Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum investigates its own role in and for a changing North. By sharing some past and present attempts to change power structures in our projects, we constantly learn and question who we are as a museum. And, most importantly, what our role in, for, and with the society is and can be.


9:30 - 10 a.m.

Presenter: Anniina Kovuroa, Curator, Rovaniemi Art Museum

Research into the physical and mental landscapes of childhood after the Second World War in Northern Finland, including Lappish school children artworks, collected by a Canadian relief worker. The drawings, paintings and paper cuts reflect the national mental landscape as well as the local school aesthetics, ethics, and norms that prevailed at the time.   


10 - 10:30 a.m.

The Urgent Need for Resilience and Transformational Change in Museums 

Presenter: Gail Anderson, Principal, Gail Anderson & Associates

Anderson highlights an ideology and set of strategies to reposition museums for greater relevancy featured in The Resilience Playbook. The approach requires rethinking long-held assumptions and tackling embedded exclusionary, colonial ideologies, and outmoded practices to establish more flexible, inclusive, and responsive frameworks that better align with external realities. Anderson proposes five interrelated goals for activating antiracism and inclusion, renegotiating community value, reimaging institutional impact, retooling financial alignment, and advancing agile leadership.  


10:30 - 11 a.m.

Giving Up Power: Rethinking Education and Interpretation 

Presenter: Hollis Mickey, Chief Learning and Access Officer, Anchorage Museum

Museum education models have historically been colonizing forces, perpetuating power structures which exclude and invalidate multiple ways of knowing. Even the etymology of the word 'education,' derived from the Latin educare, meaning 'to lead,' proposes a power dynamic of authoritative instructor to unlearned student. Mickey considers how models of informal learning might decenter power from institutions and individuals. Participants will be invited to join in rethinking the what, how, and why of educations in their own institutions and lives.


11 - 11:30 a.m.

Given & Gathered: Indigenous Gratitude, Subsistence and Sustainability

Artist Perspective with Erin Gingrich


11:30 a.m. - Noon

Conversation, Closing, Suggestions for Further Convenings & Topics







Presented with Support from 


The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders, and fostering international understanding. Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., the Luce Foundation advances its mission through grant making and leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education, religion and theology, art and public policy.


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