For this week’s assignment, I decided to take a look at some of the Alaskan collections from the British Museum. The object’s museum number is Am1976,03.79.a, and it is a wooden mask commissioned and collected by a Dr. Margaret Lantis. The mask was formerly on exhibit in 1992, 1999, and 2020-2021, and is currently in the museum collections. Much of the notes were rather vague, but there was more detail on the mask itself and its history.

The mask was purchased from and added to the museum collections 1976 from an anthropologist named Robert B. Inverarity , but was collected some time prior in 1947 by an American anthropologist named Margaret Lantis. The mask itself has accompanying notes on its components during its construction.

According to some of the notes written by a curator, this mask may have been a part of a set, with another mask in the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, that was intended for a feast ceremony. The masks were never used for a ceremony, however, and were both purchased by D. Lantis in Nunivak Island in 1947.

For an item from my home, I am from a multicultural family, so there are many American and Chinese decorations in my home. One that has always stood out to me is a small jolly wooden buddha statue that we keep in our house as an artistic decoration. I don’t know exactly where or when this wooden figure was bought, but I do know that it was hand carved and purchased from a village in Taiwan. Statues such as these are often placed in a house to attract wealth and good luck, but in our case, it is simply another decoration to be admired.

Which objects that you have seen at a museum made you wonder how it was acquired before it was added to an exhibit?

Am1976,03.79.a Cup’iq Mask from Nunivak Island

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.