National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Alaka Wali

Affiliation: The Field Museum

Alaka Wali was the founding director of the Center for Cultural Understanding and Change from 1995- 2010 at the Field Museum.  During that time, she pioneered the development of participatory social science research and community engagement processes based in museum science.  Wali curates the North American collection, one of the Museum’s largest regional anthropology holdings. Her research focuses on the relationship between art and the capacity for social resilience and she has authored several books and monographs and published over 50 articles on a wide range of topics, including museum practice, political ecology, and urban anthropology.  Wali has curated numerous exhibitions, pioneering co-curated exhibitions with Native American contemporary artists.  She led the curation of the renovation of the North American Anthropology Hall, just opened in May 2022, which broke new ground for the Field Museum with a deeply collaborative approach that privileges the perspectives of Native American scholars, artists and community members.    


Ever wonder how museum exhibits are made? Join Alaka Wali as she discusses how the Field Museum (Chicago) approached their recent renovation of the Native North America hall.  Wali will explain the museum’s collaborative approach that involved working with an advisory committee of Native American scholars, museum professionals, artists, and activists.  The Field Museum also reached out to over 100 people across the United States and Canada to bring Native American voices and perspectives into the exhibition display.  The process also led to the beginning of reforms in how the museum provides access to the anthropology collections for source communities and how they are conceptualizing stewardship of the collections with Native American Tribes and First Nations.

Join Field Museum curator Alaka Wali as she uses examples from the new exhibition, “Native Truths: Our Voices, Our Stories” to illustrate different dimensions of Native American perspectives on time and history.  Examples will come from an Oneida artist, an Ioway potter, and a Potawatomie cartographer.     During this event there will be ample time to ask questions.

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