Ruth Phillips’ 2011 book Museum Pieces: Towards the Indigenization of Canadian Museums presents the argument that during the latter half of the twentieth century, museum work practices have become indigenized; that is to say, that moments of rupture and of harmony between Indigenous peoples and museum workers have resulted in the co-creation of a new way of doing museum work.
My review of her book was recently published in Muse, the magazine of the Canadian Museums Association. Unfortunately it’s not available to read online, but here are my conclusions about Phillip’s recent addition to an important, expanding area of research:
Phillips’ work is a significant contribution to the growing field of critical museology. Museum workers, professors, and students will find much in this book that is of interest, and I anticipate it will be an important resource for years to come.
There is a lot more to say about her book (my review was limited to 300 words!) but I hope it will stimulate museum professionals to consider the extent to which their own policies and workflows have been indigenized, if at all, and encourage them to find partnerships that will help them work towards this. Phillips’ work clearly demonstrates the potential benefits that this can have, especially in terms of creating and maintaining meaningful relationships between museums and the Indigenous communities.