Connecting Harvard’s Collections to Communities in Utah
The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University and the Harvard Alumni for Oceania are pleased to announce the Harvard Oceanic Collections Engagement Fellowship (HOCEF), a community-driven program for adult members of Oceania and the Oceanic diaspora (including the Pacific Islands, Australia, and Torres Strait Islands, Papua New Guinea, and West Papua) to explore, engage with, and respond to the Peabody Museum’s vast collection of materials from the region.
This HOCEF pilot program will take place between March 2021 and May 2022 and for this first iteration, is focused on the diaspora communities living in the greater Salt Lake City area of Utah, which is home to one of the largest and quickly growing Pacific Islander populations in the United States. Two awardees will receive funding, staff support, and resources to remotely* engage with the Peabody Museum collections and a virtual platform to share their reflections on the collections with the public.
*Due to the current state of the country’s coronavirus epidemic, including the closure of the Peabody Museum, the program will only be able to provide access to the collections virtually – through live video visits, photographs, and documentation.
Applications are now open!
Applications must be received by July 1 2021 at 11:59 pm MST
Did you miss the virtual information session on Tuesday, March 9th?
Watch the virtual information session
. Meet the Fellowship co-creators Ingrid Ahlgren and Moana Palelei HoChing, learn more about the Fellowship details and requirements, and hear about the Oceanic collections housed at Harvard University's Peabody Museum.
New England—and Massachusetts in particular—has a long history of contact with Oceania dating back to the late eighteenth century. The Peabody Museum stewards a large collection of over 15,000 cultural materials, and 30,000 photographs, prints, letters, and other documents, from across the region. Collected by Boston merchants, traders, explorers, and researchers via planned Pacific voyages and unexpected encounters, these materials provide a unique way to look at the histories and relationships between Oceanic peoples and foreigners that visited and otherwise engaged with the region.
Left: Drel (woven fan from the Marshall Islands), circa 1899. Gift of Alexander Agassiz, 1900. Image © President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, 00-8-70/55574. Center: Malo (men's loincloth from Hawai`i), pre-1890. Gift of the American Antiquarian Society, 1890. Image © President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, 90-17-70/48434.2. Right: Archer's wooden shoulder shield from the Papuan Gulf, Papua New Guinea, pre-1889. Museum purchase, 1891. Image © President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, 91-6-70/50513.
See an overview of the region’s collections
Browse select groups of collections compiled from around the region
HOCEF is intended to provide an opportunity to widen, deepen, and diversify engagement with museum collections outside of Harvard. It aims to highlight and empower Oceanic voices in their creative and unique forms of expression regarding what the museum’s collections mean to them, and how collections can be used to reveal histories and tell stories of contemporary relevance to the diaspora today.
The pilot will fund two participants to produce a reflection on, or examination of, select museum collection materials of their choice (heritage objects, photographs, and/or archives). Museum staff will provide three months of assistance in learning how to research and look at the collections in different ways. Two awardees will each be given an honorarium of $2,500 USD for their projects.
Awardees will also receive several months of devoted staff support from the Peabody Museum, including remote digital access to the collections via video visits and photographs, as well as research assistance to locate additional collection documentation. Curator of Oceanic Collections Dr. Ingrid Ahlgren will provide guidance on how to research museum collections, interrogate contact and collection histories, and be available as necessary for consultation during the entire process. Each awardee will receive two or three remote collections visits via zoom or other live video platform where they will be able to see the collections they’ve chosen up close and at several angles. The Peabody Museum will also provide digital photography (or scans) of relevant collections (objects, photographs, and/or archives).
We respect that exploration of and responses to museum collections may take on a variety of forms of expression, and we encourage traditional knowledge holders, artists and artisans, storytellers, dancers, musicians, and poets to apply in addition to scholars, researchers, and otherwise curious minds. Projects must engage with the Peabody Museum’s collections directly but can take on any form, whether it be (for example) a blog post or podcast investigating an object’s history or significance, a recreation of a technique or design form, or a piece of art of performance reflecting on a cultural practice.
Projects - whether a presentation, performance, or exhibition - will be publicly shared online as well as in person in the greater Salt Lake City area (pending review of COVID safety recommendations). If the project produces a tangible result (a piece of art, for example), the work remains the property of the awardee, but the awardee will provide digital copies and documentation to the Peabody Museum to document and archive the final product and the fellowship activities. If the project deliverable is performative in nature, the performance must be digitally recorded, and a copy given to all parties. (Some exceptions may be allowed if an applicant provides a strong argument for an ephemeral, non-permanent piece for cultural or artistic reasons, approved by the HOCEF Advisory Committee in advance in writing). Restrictions on use and access to these materials may be negotiated, if appropriate.
Successful awardees will be notified in August 2021 and will have between then and January 2022 to complete their projects. HOCEF staff will then work with them to organize the public presentation of their projects in Salt Lake City and/or online.
Who Can Apply?
This program actively seeks and invests in the voices and creative expressions of descendant and diaspora communities whose cultural heritage is housed at the museum. This includes a variety of heritage stakeholders such as elders, knowledge holders, artists, and other individuals with a vested interest in their cultural heritage, regardless of educational background or familiarity with academic study or museum collections work.
This fellowship is open to all peoples identifying as Indigenous Oceanic peoples over the age of 18 living in the wider Salt Lake City area, or within the state of Utah. Cooperatives or groups may apply but will receive a single monetary award for the group as one entity.
Applicants must investigate the collections in advance and will be expected to provide a detailed (written) project description, a personal statement about their vision, and a narrative description of their background and expertise. Since projects must engage directly with Peabody Museum collections, applicants are encouraged to communicate with the museum staff to identify relevant collections before submitting an application. They are not expected to provide a resume, but personal references familiar with their work or knowledge will be required (with contact information).
Fellowship awards will be granted through a formal application and selection process, evaluated by a Fellowship Advisory Committee made up of Peabody Museum, Harvard Alumni for Oceania, University of Utah, and several Oceanic diaspora community representatives. Applications will be evaluated in terms of project feasibility, engagement with collections, originality, and resonance for the diaspora community.
Read more about the Fellowship requirements and application in our Application Guidelines.
Dan Taulapapa McMullin examines the patterns on a siapo (bark tapa cloth) from Samoa to inform and inspire his own artwork (Photo: Ingrid Ahlgren, August 2019).
Important Upcoming Dates
March 9, 2021
Online information session with Moana Palelei HoChing and Dr. Ingrid Ahlgren
April 1, 2021
Call for Applications Open (application information and forms available online)
July 1, 2021
Final projects due
Presentation/Exhibition of project
Interested in knowing more? Tell us about yourself and sign up here to receive updates via our email listserv. You can also follow us on Twitter @PeabodyHOCEF.
This program is a collaborative partnership between the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology and the Harvard Alumni for Oceania, and in coordination with the University of Utah’s School for Cultural and Social Transformation
, and with support from The Utah Museum of Fine Arts
. Co-leaders Moana Palelei HoChing and Ingrid Ahlgren are especially grateful to Kathryn Stockton, Gretchen Dietrich, Whitney Tassie, Jane Pickering, Diana Loren, Lehua Kono, Liz Tenrai, Steve Rothman, Kristin Oberiano, Leilani Doktor, and Atheena Arasoo for their trust and support in this endeavor. Thank you!