Things that time forgot Native American objects in Danish Museums Problems and possibilities

  • Laura Ahlqvist Aarhus University
  • Mathias Bjørnevad Aarhus University
  • Felix Riede Aarhus University
  • Magdalena Naum Aarhus University

Abstract

We present a hitherto unresearched part of a shared Danish and American cultural heritage: Native American objects in Danish regional museum collections. Thus far, we have identified more than 200 Native American artefacts in 27 local museums, largely a result of Danes abroad privately collecting in the late 1800s and 1950s–70s. The majority of these artefacts, many of which are prehistoric in age, have never been displayed and have lingered in storage since they were accessioned, understudied and often unrecognised for what they are. Recent deaccessioning pressures from the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces potentially place these objects at risk of destruction, making the discussions presented here a timely issue. These Native American objects, like the unknown numbers of other non-Danish artefacts held by regional museums, hold tremendous potential to elucidate overlooked parts of Danish museum history, trans-Atlantic networks and interconnectedness in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as rich material cultures originating far from Denmark. We argue that this perspective is highly relevant and should be utilised in Danish museums, as it begets reflections on Danish glocal identity and society in a post-colonial world.

Author Biographies

Laura Ahlqvist, Aarhus University

Ph.D. Candidate

Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies

Mathias Bjørnevad, Aarhus University

Ph.D. Candidate

Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies,

Felix Riede, Aarhus University

Ph.D., Professor

Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies

Magdalena Naum, Aarhus University

Ph.D., Associate Professor

Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies

Published
2019-12-06
Section
Articles