The Denison Museum presents: "Unarchive the museum: archaeological collections and replicas from Ecuador"

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“Unarchive the museum: archaeological collections and replicas from Ecuador” by Pamela Cevallos

This exhibition presents my research on the diverse appropriations of objects from Ecuador’s pre-Hispanic past through the lens of collecting practices and community experiences. The installation connects two works conceived a decade apart, reflecting the tension between national and local, history and memory.

Bureau (2014) investigates the complex dynamics of public collecting through the acquisition archives of Ecuador’s national museums, established in the mid-20th century by the Central Bank. Through drawing and collage, I establish connections between the symbolic value of objects as cultural artifacts and their value as monetary reserves. The documents showcase the social and economic networks surrounding these museums and their impact on local communities; many relied on selling their cultural heritage for subsistence.

One of these communities is La Pila, located in the province of Manabí, where, in the 1960s, alongside the commercialization of objects, a craft emerged involving the creation of archaeological clay replicas for the antiquities market. Since 2015, I have collaborated with this community to revalue the artisanal knowledge behind these replicas. The Originals (2024) is a tribute to the memory of the pioneering artisans. Crafted by Ángel Gómez, a member of the second generation of artisans, these pieces reinterpret objects from the national collection. As an expanded archive, Gómez inscribes names of people and places that are part of the community’s history.


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