Free Virtual Conversation
Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy), Executive Director and Senior Partner to Wabanaki Nations, Abbe Museum
Jane Pickering, William & Muriel Seabury Howells Director, Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, Harvard University
Lorén Spears, Executive Director, Tomaquag Museum
Moderated by Castle McLaughlin, Museum Curator of North American Ethnography, Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, Harvard University
As museums have acknowledged their legacy as colonial institutions, many have reimagined their mission as agents of decolonization and social justice. The pandemic disruption, the Black Lives Matter movement, and other community issues are driving still more rapid and drastic changes and providing opportunities for reflection and growth. How can American museums—especially those that have strong relationships with Indigenous communities—respond to current national conditions of social unrest and political turmoil? How have New England museums fared and what is likely to happen over the next two to three years?
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About the Speakers
Chris Newell is Executive Director and Sr. Partner to Wabanaki Nations for the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine. He was born and raised in Motahkmikuhk (Indian Township, Maine) and is a proud citizen of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township. Chris is a co-founder of Akomawt Educational Initiative, an educational consultancy working with schools, universities, museums, and all areas of education to incorporate Native perspectives in a culturally competent manner. He is an award-winning museum educator dedicated to expanding the presence of Native content and making a better, more informed world for all peoples.
Jane Pickering was appointed as the William and Muriel Seabury Howells Director of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology in 2019. Prior to that she was Executive Director of the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture, a partnership of six museums. She has thirty years’ experience working in university museums, including administrative positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University. During her career she has focused on the unique opportunities available to university museums for public engagement, through multiple exhibition projects and informal education initiatives. In 2016 she was appointed by former president Barack Obama to the National Museum and Library Services Board.
Lorén M. Spears, Narragansett, Executive Director of Tomaquag Museum, holds a Masters in Education and received a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from the University of Rhode Island. She is an author, artist, and shares her cultural knowledge with the public through museum programs. She has written curriculum, poetry, and narratives published in a variety of publications such as Dawnland Voices, An Anthology of Indigenous Writing of New England; Through Our Eyes: An Indigenous View of Mashapaug Pond; The Pursuit of Happiness: An Indigenous View, and From Slaves to Soldiers: The 1st Rhode Island Regiment in the American Revolution. Recently, she co-edited a new edition of A Key into the Language of America by Roger Williams.