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Looking Through the Glass: How Museums Constructed “Moche Culture”

Tue May 16, 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Part of the Gardiner Signature Lecture Series
The Diane Wolfe Lecture

How much is our image of the past influenced by museums? For archaeological objects, the distance between the original contexts and modern collection and exhibition practices is likely to have altered the role and meaning of these objects. Museums exhibiting ancient art are not neutral windows to the past, but rather, spaces where new relationships are created between people and things.

Moche art, produced on the north coast of Peru between the 3rd and the 9th centuries CE, is particularly well represented in museums and has been given pride of place in several recent exhibitions in North America and Europe. Archaeological research in the past twenty year has also led to great advances in our understanding of the Moche, especially regarding the variability of Moche experiences. These advances, however, rarely find echo in museum collections and exhibitions.

This lecture explores the disparities between Moche experiences of Moche art as recovered through archaeological fieldwork and modern experiences of Moche art to retrace the role of museums in constructing what is known as the “Moche culture”.

About the Speaker

Erell Hubert

Erell Hubert, Curator of pre-Columbian Art at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Erell Hubert is curator of pre-Columbian art at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. As an archaeologist, she has been doing fieldwork in Peru since 2008, mostly at Moche sites on the north coast and most recently at the Wari site of Cerro Baúl in Southern Peru. She holds a Ph.D in Archaeology from the University of Cambridge. Her dissertation, titled Moche Colonial Identity in the Santa Valley, explored the role of figurines in processes of identity negotiation among the Moche. She was also associate curator of the exhibition Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon (2013-2014) presented at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Seattle Art Museum, and published a history of the pre-Columbian collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Her interest for the impact of curatorial and exhibition practices on modern experiences of ancient art emerged from her combined experiences in archaeological fieldwork and museum curation.

Presented by Brian Wilks

With support from the Diane Wolfe Fund


Image: Stirrup-spout portrait head bottle, 500-700, Peru, Chicama, Moche or Viru Valley, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.165




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