The Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History and the Hunterian Museum were delighted to host the 2017 Museum Ethnographers Group conference at the beginning of April. Around 80 delegates came from as far away as New Zealand to hear two days of presentations from museum professionals and academics on the theme of cloth and clothing. The fascinating range of talks focused on artefacts as varied as wooden masks from Andean Ecuador to the kappa mu’umu’u, a contemporary form of dress in Hawaii, and from Jamaican lace-bark to contemporary Nigerian fashion, with a particular focus on Pacific barkcloth, the subject of one of our research projects. There were interesting talks on innovative methods of researching textiles from around the world including the reconstruction of Pacific Kiribati armour, the modelling of a mock-up Maori dogskin cloak and an exhibition in the Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt, which draws parallels between textile technology and language, mathematics and music. It was inspiring to hear many of the speakers discuss the importance of textiles and clothing as cultural signifiers and their role in creating identity around the world. Some of the papers will be published in the Journal of Museum Ethnography
Delegates were able to view some of the Hunterian Museum’s fine ethnographic collection during a reception in the museum on the first evening. The two days were organised by Dr Andy Mills, Research Associate on the Pacific Barkcloth project, ably assisted by a team of student volunteers. It was a great pleasure to welcome some of our textile conservation graduates back to the Centre for the two days and to meet new colleagues.