Empathic Traditions: A New Look at an Old Collection

Ontario Archaeological Society Symposium, 2020
Clark Bernat (City of Niagara Falls), Tim Johnson (Landscape of Nations), Rob MacDonald (ASI)

Niagara Falls Museums teamed up with Landscape of Nations 360° (LON) in 2019 to gain a fresh perspective and accurate account of their collection. The direction of the project was to apply Indigenous knowledge and perspectives focused on parts of the collection that had sat dormant for many years. Much of the Indigenous collection at the Niagara Falls Museums had been accumulated, like at most museums, by late 19th- and early 20th-century collectors. It had been crudely identified and either displayed with a Euro-centric perspective or shelved. LON and the Museums agreed that this collection could shed better light on the long Indigenous presence in Niagara and provide a new lens on what could be learned from it. The result was Empathic Traditions: Niagara’s Indigenous Legacy (https://empathictraditions.ca/), a virtual exhibition that explores the objects through revealing fresh insights into the presence of Indigenous peoples, their art, and their history in the Niagara region, extending back hundreds of generations