Reorienting Cultural Creativity: Collecting and (Re)presenting Global Culture in Museum


This Interdisciplinary Research Forum (IRF) event is run in conjunction with CREATURE. The Transcultural Exchanges and Network research strand of CREATURE convenes “Reorienting Cultural Creativity”, a research series on the tactics of resistance in institutionalised establishments and postcolonial processes of globalisation. In an attempt to add new prospects and visions to the existing set-up of art and culture, the series redresses the balance for an actor-oriented approach.

As part of the research series, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Design Museum Dharavi are brought together for a dialogue on collecting and (re)presenting contemporary objects in dress, textile and design under the rubric of decolonising the museum.

What are the common grounds and differences in the approach of artefacts in the imperial museum and newfound museum? What are the implications of decolonising the museum from UK to India to Africa to China? Global histories and culture have increasingly been taken in the study of dress, textile and design objects as a way to decentre the Euro-centric agenda of design history. This Interdisciplinary Research Forum considers the way in which global histories and culture can be factored into a reconfiguration of the dress, textile and design collection in the museum, and vice versa. What roles do global histories play in reshuffling museum collections at this moment of cultural change? To what extent can global culture be considered in the grand scheme of collection, narration, curation and presentation in a variety of museum settings?

This forum scrutinises these questions by uncovering the approaches to museum artefacts in various geographic regions through which interrogate the uneven modus operandi of the politics of representation, museum as a product of colonial legacy, the construction of aesthetic judgement and the perceived value system.


Session chair: 

Prof. Wessie Ling, Professor of Transcultural Arts and Design, School of Art, Architecture and Design, London Metropolitan University

Prof. Wessie Ling is the Director of The Centre for Creative Arts, Cultures and Engagement (CREATURE). A cultural historian and visual artist, her work concerns cultural production and cultural property of fashion and their relations with the transcultural locality and the tension within and outside of the fashion system in which it is produced. She was ASEAN Research Fellow at Mahidol University (2018), Rita Bolland Research Fellow at the National Museum of World Cultures (2018/9), and the co-investigator of Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) project, Writing and Translating Modern Design Histories for the Global World (2012-14). She is the author of Fusionable Cheongsam and co-editor of Fashion in Multiple Chinas: Chinese Styles in the Transglobal Landscape, and special issues for Modern Italy and Zone Moda Journal. She advises the National Museum of World Cultures on acquisition of which artefacts have now been exhibited at Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam and the World Museum in Rotterdam.



Dr Harriet McKay, Senior Lecturer, Coordinator CCS for Interior, School of Art, Architecture and Design, London Metropolitan University

Dr Harriet McKay is a curator and academic with a specialism in interior design history. She has worked at the Geffrye Museum, London, and was curator at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich. McKay opened and ran the National Trust's first Modern Movement property to be available to the general public, working with the organisation between 1995 and 2005. She has taught the Museology and Heritage Studies MA in the School of World Art and Museology at the University of East Anglia. She was Research Fellow at the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning – Design run jointly between the V&A Museum, RIBA, RCA and University of Brighton. She was Research Assistant for the AHRC Centre for the Study of the Domestic Interior. Current research interests include twentieth-century South African design and material culture, and the impact of apartheid on the region's visual culture.

Dr Christine Checinska, Curator of African and African diaspora fashion, Victoria and Albert Museum

Dr Christine Checinska has been a womenswear designer and is currently the Curator of African and African Diaspora Fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Her work considers the relationship between cloth, culture and race; exploring themes such as colonialism and international trade. Checinska worked with InIVA (the Institute for International Visual Arts) on several projects, including Cloth & Differences and Social Fabric which explored textiles and social processes. She has held academic and research positions at Goldsmiths, University of London and University of Johannesburg, Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre. In 2016, she delivered a TED talk that explored fashion as everyday activism during which she coined the phrase Craftivist.

Amanda Pinatih, Co-founder, Design Museum Dharavi

Amanda Pinatih is Design Curator at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam where she provides new perspectives to the vast design collection and makes exhibitions that address today’s social, decolonial and environmental concerns. As a PhD candidate at VU Amsterdam, Pinatih researches Indonesian objects entering the Netherlands during the colonial years to contest the belonging of young people self-identified as Indonesian-Dutch. She is also the co-founder of Design Museum Dharavi in Mumbai (IN) which showcased local talent through a nomadic exhibition space and employed design as a tool for social change and innovation on a global scale, challenging the boundaries of traditional museums. As a design and art professional, she has presented/curated/produced projects and exhibitions internationally including Broken Nature Triennale Milano; the Grand Palais, Paris; Salone del Mobile, Milan; Palais Bahia, Marrakech; the Netherlands-Russia year, Moscow; The New Institute, Rotterdam and Droog Design, Amsterdam among many others.



Preliminary Readings:

Ayanda Ngcobo (2018), The Politics of Representation in South African Museums, ICOFOM Study Series [En ligne], 46.

Checinska Christine (2018), (Re)-Fashioning African Diasporic Masculinities, in Fashion and Postcolonial Critique, Elke Gaugele and Monica Titton (eds.), Sternberg Press.

Kassim, S (2017), The Museum Will Not be Decolonialised. Media Diversified, (November 15).

Ling Wessie and Van Dartel, Daan. Global Fashion as a Tool in the Ethnographic Museum. In W Ling, M Lorusso, and S Segre Reinach (eds) Global Fashion, Zone Moda Journal 9(2): 71-88, 2019.



Photo credit: Design Museum Dharavi


A selection of colourful pots and rugs being displayed in a mobile exhibition.


Date/time Thursday 3 June 2021, from 4pm to 6pm GMT
Book ticket Collecting and (Re)presenting Global Culture in Museum
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Collecting and (Re)presenting Global Culture in Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum and Design Museum Dharavi are brought together for a dialogue on collecting and (re)presenting contemporary objects in dress, textile and design under the rubric of decolonising the museum.