Frozen Museum

Making the Frozen Museum

Appendix 06

Inside Omeka

The Nunavut Arctic College (NAC) jewellery history workshop that took place between 5-15 January 2016 presents a hybrid course in which lecture is combined with hands-on studio work to support, enhance and advance learning.

In conducting this workshop, I drew upon my current experience as a postdoctoral fellow on the Making and Knowing Project at Columbia University, where we are exploring how material literacy impacts, and changes, the ways in which we "do" history - essentially, how the act of making things and physically engaging with materials opens up new ways of asking questions and seeking answers.

I came to NAC with a general course plan in place: to hold media-rich morning lectures that focussed on discussion about the designs, materials and technologies of jewellery from antiquity to the present day, followed by studio work in the afternoon that built upon the history lecture component in some way. I also planned from the outset to document the NAC workshop, and feature the students' work, using the online open-source content management system Omeka to create a museum exhibition of our experiences and processes. However, I did not want to dictate the assignment; instead, I elected to first meet the students and learn about their interests and skills before crafting the project, and the students had total automony in determining their museum's content.

The first class was foundational in different ways. We started with a look at photos and video of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA) and its exhibitions about Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome that I had shot just prior to arriving in Iqaluit, and I also pulled up images of Iqaluit's local museum. We talked about the role of a museum; the students had strong opinions regarding how objects were acquired and displayed, and our discussion also encompassed thinking about the museum as a space of study and story-telling through objects. The students were fascinated by examples of hardstone seals in the MMA, which were used for millenia as modes of communication and identification. Based on this, I felt that a cylinder seal project would be the perfect medium to link lecture with studio, and I proposed that we all reconstruct our own personal cylinder seal engraved with our own narratives, and use these Arctic hardstone objets d'art to present Inuit culture to our online museum visitors - which the class, after a few days of debate, decided would be named the Frozen Museum.

Making the Frozen Museum