• African Architecture Matters: Developing and Increasing the Visibility of African Architectural Collections in North America and Abroad

    Gwen Mayhew (see profile) , Viveca Pattison Robichaud
    Architecture & Planning Section, ARLIS/NA Canada Chapter, ARLIS/NA MOQ, ARLIS/NA Museum Division
    Architecture, Libraries, Museums, Centre canadien d'architecture
    Item Type:
    Meeting Title:
    Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: Increasing Access to a Wider Range of Diverse Materials
    Meeting Org.:
    Meeting Loc.:
    Chicago, IL
    Meeting Date:
    April 6th, 2022
    2022 ARLIS/NA Conference, Research, public programming, african architecture
    Permanent URL:
    While it is easy to focus on collection strengths, recently the CCA has tried to articulate where our collection is lacking. This is to understand why we historically focused on certain architectural styles and geographical areas, and to identify where to shift priorities to address these imbalances. We recently received a donation of nearly 3000 volumes from an NGO with consulting projects in Africa. These materials were collected by European planners and architects active in Africa. This collection is important for our institution and has spurred new projects and lines of inquiry. We hosted a Master's Studies Program in 2017 focusing on the study of 20th c. African architecture as a means to inform 21st c. building practices on the continent. In 2019 we launched a research program on post-colonial architectural perspectives in Africa. This program was developed in consultation with expert advisors and is meant to be a way to contextualize, re-imagine, and update our institution’s collection. In this presentation, we shared how we are building a more global collection, while remaining sensitive to a growing movement to keep cultural property where it was created. Crucial to our discussion is placing this material within its context of creation and in dialogue with similar collections globally. By engaging the original collectors as consultants and inviting architects and scholars to discuss these materials, we can enrich and build upon these collections. Similarly, by creating programs that encourage scholars to use these collections, we gain a more thorough understanding of these materials and make connections with our existing collections. We are adopting these strategies for the sake of enriching the context of these collections and creating a dialogue between our collections and community, both within our walls and globally. Presented as part of the panel “Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: Increasing Access to a Wider Range of Diverse Materials.”
    Speakers: Viveca Pattison Robichaud, Curator of Books, Canadian Centre for Architecture / Gwen Mayhew, Head of Collection Access, Canadian Centre for Architecture
    Last Updated:
    2 years ago


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