Professor Dan Hicks

The Decade of Returns: museum curation after the "universal museum"
by Professor Dan Hicks

As museums around the world begin to transfer ownership and make returns of looted African cultural heritage, what does this mean for museums in Europe and North America? In this lecture, a curator from one of the world's most iconic "world culture" collections at Oxford University takes stock of a century of African demands for returns, the gradual evolution of professional ethical curatorial practice, and the opportunities and risks that lie ahead. The lecture argues that giving back what was stolen is the essential but insufficient first step towards making our museums fit for our times — and that the pressing conceptual work begins with dismantling our museums' outdated, parochial claims to "univeralism" and shifting from a model of curatorial authority and innocence to one of curatorial implication and responsibility. 

Dan Hicks is Professor of Contemporary Archaeology at Oxford University, Curator at the university's Pitt Rivers Museum, and a Fellow of St. Cross College, Oxford. His book The Brutish Museums: the Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Restitution was named one of the New York Times Best Art Books of 2020 and is the winner of the 2022 National Council on Public History Award for the Best Book in Public History. Twitter/Instagram: @ProfDanHicks 

Thurs, January 26, 2023
12:00 PM MST