Engaging Dialogues

Reframing Africa at the Royal Ontario Museum

in Museum Worlds
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  • 1 Royal Ontario Museum silviaf@rom.on.ca
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ABSTRACT

This article outlines some recent museological initiatives aimed at responding to the important issues raised by the famous protest against the exhibition Into the Heart of Africa, organized by the Royal Ontario Museum in 1989. Despite the significant temporal hiatus from the historical protest, many of the questions raised in that context continue to be relevant in thinking of ways to engage and present African collections in a mainstream encyclopedic institution. Rather than rethinking a new, more culturally sensitive narrative, I suggest that the introduction of multiple voices and perspectives may be the only way to disrupt the linear authoritative narratives and promote a more significant and affectively relevant engagement with historical collections.

Contributor Notes

SILVIA FORNI is Curator of African Arts and Cultures in the Royal Ontario Museum’s Department of World Cultures. She is also Associate Professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto. She has written articles for numerous journals, including African Arts, Critical Interventions, and Museum Worlds, and contributed chapters to the volumes African Art and Agency in the Workshop (2013) and African Art, Interviews, Narratives: Bodies of Knowledge at Work (2013). With Christopher B. Steiner, she coedited the volume Africa in the Market (2015). She is coauthor with Doran H. Ross of Art, Honour and Ridicule: Fante Asafo Flags from Southern Ghana (2017). E-mail: silviaf@rom.on.ca

Museum Worlds

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