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What are museums good for today? What purposes do they serve, and how are they relevant for the millions of visitors, practitioners, researchers, and artists who walk through their doors every year?
Bishop Museum is delighted and honored to welcome Professor Nicholas Thomas for a presentation inspired by his latest book The Return of Curiosity: What Museums are Good For in the 21st Century. In this recent work, Thomas explores the present role of museums and positions museum collections at the core of debates on their relevance. In his book, such collections are depicted not only as invaluable resources that allow reflections on past practices, but also as creative technologies that can be used to reinvent such practices and to generate new things. As they spark the curiosity of their audience and stimulate encounters in a time of insecurity and increasing conflict, museums and their collections play an essential role. For Thomas, they help us to better understand and engage with the world we inhabit, and can thus sustain and enrich society. Professor Nicholas Thomas is an anthropologist and historian who has conducted extensive research across Oceania and Europe. He has been the Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge since 2006, where he has developed and directed many exhibits and research projects focusing on Pacific collections and trajectories, contemporary Pacific arts, and museum agencies.