Re-thinking and Re-positioning Missionary Collections and Museums

Tuesday, February 1, 2022 3:00–5:30 PM

AAR Lecture Room
Via Angelo Masina, 5
Rome, Italy
Rethinking and Repositioning Missionary Collections and Museums

Maurizio Rava, detail of PME poster, 1925, chromolithograph (image provided by Mill Hill Missionary Society Archive)

A Fellows Project Fund workshop organized by Gloria Bell and Beatrice Falcucci.

For centuries missionaries collected sacred and secular materials from Indigenous communities across the globe. Today their collecting practices and resulting collections are ongoing contested spaces that need further inquiry and dialogue, as often these histories are obfuscated by neglectful practices. Our goal is to unpack the colonial legacy of missionary collecting and chart new perspectives on the actors and agents involved. This meeting of scholars across the disciplines of art history, history, and anthropology will investigate the legacy of missionary museums and exhibitions across time and space, reflecting on the ongoing capitalization of heritage and curatorial practices.


Sabina Brevaglieri, Humboldt University Berlin
“Missionary collecting and competing heritagizations: rethinking the early modern origins of the Vatican Ethnological Museum”

Gloria Bell, McGill University, 2022 Terra Foundation Affiliated Fellow
“Indigenous Artists and Activists at the 1925 Vatican Missionary Exhibition”

Beatrice Falcucci, Università dell’Aquila, 2022 Italian Fellow
“Mapping the collections from the Italian colonies in Missionary museums”

Emanuela Rossi, Università di Firenze
“Artification to decolonize: the case of the National Gallery of Canada”

Marla Stone, Andrew W. Mellon Humanities Professor at the American Academy in Rome, will chair the workshop.

The workshop, which can also be attended online, will include a final roundtable and, for those attending in person, an aperitif at a local enoteca. To attend online, please register for Zoom in advance. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event.

The event is made possible thanks to the Fellows’ Project Fund of the American Academy in Rome.


Guests will be asked to comply with Covid-19 safety protocols for events:

  • Access to the Academy requires the presentation of a valid photo ID and a Super Green Pass
  • FFP2 masks are required when indoors, and temperature will be checked before entry
  • Visitor contact information may be shared for contact tracing

Please contact events [at] with any questions.

Backpacks and luggage with dimensions larger than 40 x 35 x 15 cm (16 x 14 x 6 in.) are not permitted on the property. There are no locker facilities available.