I’m Ananda Rutherford, and I am a museum collections manager and researcher.
In recent years both my research and professional practice has focussed on the documentation of museum objects, how information is presented, captured and accessed. I’m interested in the history and role of museum documentation and the digitisation of museum collections, but increasingly my focus is on the ethics of cataloguing practice in relation to structural racism and colonialist thinking.
My background is in art history, material culture and the history of the decorative arts and I have been working with UK museum collections for a while now: Ashmolean, V&A, the Museum of the Home, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Crafts Council.
This is not really a blog, it’s just a place to keep the bits of writing and projects that don’t really fit anywhere else, yet. Some posts are works in progress, some are bits of semi-formal writing, some are things completed, some are things that don’t count but should. A small flag in ground, place-marking, waving not drowning…
(More of me thinking outloud with the very excellent Dr Tehmina Goskar here and here ,on a proper and v useful blog from the Curatorial Research Centre).
A selection of talks and writing and stuff
- Co-authored with Anjalie Dalal-Clayton, Provisional Inclusion: Can collections research projects ever be genuinely ethical and equitable? for the Towards a National Collection Conference 2023: Unlocking the Potential of Digital Collections’, at the British Museum, 26 April 2023
- Presentation with Jon Gillick, Can ‘Words Matter” in Machine Learning? for the Transforming Collections, Rewinding Internationalism conference at Van Abbemuseum, 20-21 April, 2023
- Keynote with Anjalie Dalal-Clayton, Making the case for slow cataloguing Collections Trust Conference 2022: Rethinking Cataloguing, 6 October 2022
- Who Owns What?: Barriers to access and co-production in UK Digital & Cultural Heritage webinar with JC Niala, Andrea Wallace, Mathilde Pavis, Kelly Foster, Tehmina Goskar, Abira Hussein and Shelley Angelie Saggar, 17 November 2021.
- Provisional S/semantics, projects and positionality: Findings from the TaNC Provisional Semantics project for the ARLIS Cataloguing and Classification Committee ethics series
- Co-authored with Anjalie Dalal-Clayton, Trophies of Empire: modes of acquisition, legitimization and colonial denial in art and heritage interpretation, for the ‘Plunder: An Alternative History of Art’ session at the AAH Conference, London, 6-8 April 2022
- Co-authored with Anjalie Dalal-Clayton, Against a New Orthodoxy: Decolonised “Objectivity” in the Cataloguing and Description of Artworks a featured essay for the Paul Mellon Center Photographic Archive web site, 8 December 2021
- Presentation for the Rethinking cataloguing, classification and digital presence session, at the Rethinking museum practices: decolonizing collections conference, CIDOC, COMCOL and ICOM Brasil, 7 December 2021
- Provisional Semantics: Addressing the challenges of representing multiple perspectives within an evolving digitised national collection, presentation for the Irish Museums Association Decolonising the Catalogues conference, 26 November 2021
- Decolonising the Database presentation for Decolonising the Database event, Centre for Design History, University of Brighton, 5 July 2021
- Discussion panel – Curatorial Mediation with Anjalie Dalal-Clayton, Cheryl Bowen, Charlotte Holmes and Deirdre Osbourn for Exhibiting Embarrassment: Museums, Public Culture and Consequentialist Aesthetics Symposium, 4 June 2021
- Embedding anti-racism in museum documentation practice, presentation for Doing the Work: Documenting Collections, for Contemporary Art Society and the Decolonising Arts Institute, UAL, 24 March 2021