In January 2014 I became aware that the vast and historical Oceanic Collection held by the British Museum was now accessible online to view as digital photographs in an electronic database. Quite a feat I must admit, by the museum staff. According to the British Museum website, up to 2000 images were uploaded each week as part of their 35 year on-going effort to document and digitise all cultural artefacts, to support curatorial and research work. As a woman who identifies as being a Pacific Islander and an artist, my initial reaction to this knowledge was one of apprehension.
Who has the burden of sense making?￼
As a contemporary artist and museum professional, I was initially cynical about participating in this digital residency. My main concern was that I would, yet again, need to build relationships with community or risk existing relationships with Pacific people on behalf of the museum to gain some form of cultural capital, whilst managing the expectations of what Pacific community would get in return. I started working on the outside of museum collections as an artist. When I worked on the inside of a museum in Australia and engaged with Pacific community, I realised that I involuntarily brought the colonial baggage of the institution with me as an employee.