Museum Studies at Tufts University

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Indigenous Peoples’ Day at Boston-area museums

First, we’d like to start with a land acknowledgement for Tufts University that we are grateful to borrow from an article in the Tufts Daily:

Tufts University’s Medford campus is located on Wôpanâak (Wampanoag) and Massachusett traditional territory. Tufts’ Walnut Hill was once one of the hills in a slave-holding estate called Ten Hills Plantation. Both Africans and Native Americans were enslaved in the colony of Massachusetts, and trade in Native American and African laborers made Massachusetts a driving force in the Atlantic slave trade. 

Op-Ed: Acknowledging our settler-colonial present, the Tufts Daily

Last year, in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Tufts Museum Studies Blog editor Danielle Bennett shared a list of articles covering efforts to decolonize museums around the world. This year, we’re sharing events happening at Boston-area museums, planned jointly with indigenous educators, artists, and leaders, that celebrate native history and culture.


Indigenous Peoples’ Day at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Monday, October 14, 2019
10:00 am–5:00 pm


Features: free admission, special events

Enjoy free admission and special events at the MFA for Indigenous Peoples’ Day—and the Fenway Alliance’s 18th annual Opening Our Doors Day. Indigenous Peoples’ Day recognizes and celebrates the heritage of Native Americans and the histories of their nations and communities. Enjoy music and dance, take a tour of our Native North American Art Gallery and respond to our collection, and drop in on family art-making activities and artist demonstrations.

Co-created and presented in partnership with Akomawt Educational Initiative and Jonathan James-Perry, Tribal Citizen of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Nation.

Founded in 1870, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, stands on the historic homelands of the Massachusett people, a site which has long served as a place of meeting and exchange among different nations.

Cost: free with free admission


Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Abundant Voices at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Monday, October 14, 2019
10:00 am–4:00 pm

Also offered as part of The Fenway Alliance’s Opening Our Doors Day.

This Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the Gardner Museum is honored to collaborate with choreographer and Neighborhood Salon Luminary Marsha Parrilla of Danza Orgánica to present local Indigenous artists from the Massachusett, Nipmuc, Mashpee Wampanoag, and Aquinnah Wampanoag tribes.

The theme for the day is “Abundant Voices,” emphasizing the necessary perspectives and incredible work of these creative leaders. Enjoy hands-on art making, interactive performance, storytelling, a special performance from Gardner Museum Choreographers in Residence All Ready with local youth performers and more. 

Explore additional hands-on activities and performances organized by The Fenway Alliance throughout the day across the street from the Gardner Museum in beautiful Evans Way Park.

Cost: free with free admission on a first-come, first-served basis


Native American Poets Playlist at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology

Saturday, October 12–Monday, October 14, 2019
9:00 am-5:00 pm

In a program marking Cambridge’s Indigenous People’s Day–celebrated as the federal holiday Columbus Day–eight Native American poets may be heard reading their work in the galleries. Enrich your museum visit by listening to an evocative recorded playlist of contemporary poems by Native American authors. Wander freely across the first-floor galleries to see where the poems take you and expand your understanding of Native arts and cultures. The poems, drawn from a powerful recent anthology, New Poets of Native Nations (edited by Heid E. Erdrich; Graywolf Press) celebrate Native poets first published in the twenty-first century. Hear the exhibits “come into voice” and experience the museum in a new way. Borrow a free audio player with regular museum admission.

Jointly sponsored with the Harvard University Native American Program and the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University

Cost: free with regular admission


Indigenous People’s Weekend at Plimoth Plantation

Saturday, October 12–Monday, October 14, 2019
9:00 am-5:00 pm


Long before Europeans arrived, the Wampanoag people were living in this area known as Patuxet. Join us as we acknowledge the indigenous groups that have called this place home and celebrate their traditions through song, dance, and craft.

Cost: free with regular admission


Wampanoag Perspectives on Land: Acknowledging Indigenous Space at the Fruitlands Museumm

Monday, October 14, 2019
2:00–3:00 pm

Join Elizabeth James-Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag) on Indigenous Peoples’ Day at Fruitlands Museum as she presents “Wampanoag Perspectives on the Land: Acknowledging Indigenous Space.”  Elizabeth James-Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag) is a multi-medium traditional and contemporary artist, with specialties in wampum shell carving and reviving natural dye techniques for her finger-woven sashes, bags, and baskets.

Cost: free with regular admission (space is limited – registration is requested)


Though the city of Boston and state of Massacusetts have yet to officially recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we’re heartened to see that hasn’t stopped our cultural institutions. You can find other Boston-area happenings in this list from Cultural Survival. If you’re not in the Boston area, you can find Indigenous People’s Day events around the country in this list by Indian Country Today. Our guess (and hope) is that more museums near you may be celebrating and collaborating with indigenous voices tomorrow* – take a look for yourself!

*and next week, and next month, and next year, and so on – for many more days besides just tomorrow!

Here and There: I Hear Music

Here: First, attend Gardner After Hours: Equinox and be sure to add on tickets for the Tribute to Lena Horne concert when you purchase online.

There: Next, attend How Creativity Works at the Museum of Science which includes drinks, activities, and most importantly, a performance by the Boston Typewriter Orchestra.

Visit the Gardner to purchase tickets for After Hours on March 15, 5-9. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 with student ID. Tickets for the concert are purchased separately at $27 for adults and $12 for students.

Visit Museum of Science to get your $15 tickets for How Creativity Works on March 21, 7pm.

Here and There: Mixing Business with Pleasure

Here: First, sign up for Drawing in Pubs, a ten week session hosted by the MFA that meets in a different pub each Thursday and covers basic drawing skills in pencil and ink. Open to all levels over age 21.

Next: Get your tickets for the Gardner’s After Hours Opening Bash on January 19. Be one of the first to explore the new wing and revisit the historic galleries. There will be drinks, snacks, a concert in the concert hall, a band in the courtyard, art activities and more.

Visit the MFA for more information about Drawing in Pubs. January 5-March 15. $285.

Visit the Gardner for details, ticket options and to purchase tickets. January 19, 7pm. $40-60.

Gardner Heist: Solved

Want some fun for a Friday afternoon?

Stephen Colbert confessed to the 1990 heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum a few days ago.

Yes, you read that right. Just watch the clip.

Last Gardner After Hours Until 2012!

Have you ever been to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s After Hours program for tasty cocktails, fabulous art, and interesting conversation?

What are you waiting for?

This Thursday, December 16, the Gardner will be hosting its last Gardner After Hours until after their new wing opens in 2012.

Students get in for $5 with ID, and rumor has it that the Fall 2010 members of ED280, Museum Education and Interpretation, will be crashing the party to see their fearless leader, Jen DePrizio (also known as Director of Visitor Learning at the Gardner) in action.

Care to join? Get your tickets today!

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