0195 Theorising Lindauer's Māori Portraits: Rethinking Images of Māori in Museums, Exhibitions, Ethnography and Art

  • Conal McCarthy (Author)
    Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

    Director Museum and heritage studies programme, Victoria University of Wellington. Selected publications: (With Tony Bennett, Fiona Cameron, Nelia Dias, Ben Dibley, and Ira Jacknis) Collecting, Ordering, Governing: Anthropology and Liberal Government, Durham NC: Duke University Press, forthcoming 2016; Museum Practice: The Contemporary Museum at Work, Oxford and Malden, MA: Wiley, 2015 (= International Handbooks of Museum Studies, eds. Sharon Macdonald and Helen Rees Leahy, vol. 3); Museums and Māori: Heritage Professionals, Indigenous Collections, Current Practice, Wellington: Te Papa Press, and Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press, 2011; Exhibiting Māori: A History of Colonial Cultures of Display, Berg: Oxford & New York, and Wellington: Te Papa Press, 2007; “‘To foster and encourage the study and practice of Māori arts and crafts’: Indigenous Material Culture, Colonial Culture and Museums in New Zealand”, in: Craft & Community: The Material Culture of Place & Politics, 19th-20th Century, eds. Janice Helland, Beverly Lemire and Alena Buis, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2014, 59-82; “Carving Out a Place in the Better Britain of the South Pacific: Māori in New Zealand Museums and Exhibitions”, in: Curating Empire: Museums and the British Imperial Experience, eds. John McAleer and Sarah Longair, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012, 56-81; “Empirical Anthropologists Advocating Cultural Adjustments: The Anthropological Governance of Āpirana Ngata and the Native Affairs Department”, in: History and Anthropology 25:2 (March 2014), 280-295; “‘Our works of ancient times’: History, Colonisation and Agency at the 1906-7 New Zealand International Exhibition”, in: Museum History Journal 2:2 (2009), 119-142.

Identifiers (Article)


This paper surveys ‘representations’ of Māori in connection with museums and international exhibitions from 1873-1925, in particular through works of art by painters such as Lindauer and taonga (treasures) made by Māori people themselves. It questions the postmodern analysis of objects and public display in terms of representation, along with the politics of identity that go with it, arguing instead that using a framework of visual culture, actor-network theory and indigenous agency illuminates these objects in a different, and altogether more complex way. In particular it draws on historical Māori accounts of their critical but enthusiastic engagement with western cultures of collection and display, and explores how this evidence might underpin new methods of analysis both in the study of colonial art and its histories and contemporary museum practice.


Gottfried Lindauer, portrait painting, Maori, taonga, Colonial art, actor-network theory, indigenous agency, cultures of collection, cultures of display