Clara Chamorro, Anthropology, BMC ‘22

Museum Studies Fieldwork Seminar

Faculty Advisor: Sylvia Houghteling & Monique Scott

Field Site: Arch Street Project, Rutgers University-Camden

Field Supervisor: Kimberlee Moran

Praxis Poster:

Clara Chamorro_Final Praxis Poster


Further Context:

In the past few years there has been a reckoning in the museum field surrounding museum collections of human skeletal remains. Many of these collections were collected at a time when practices that we would consider highly unethical today were the norm. Although the Arch Street Project isn’t a permanent collection of human remains, working with Kim and the Arch Street Project’s human skeletal remains at Rutgers Camden has allowed me to start engaging with questions and understanding practices that are applicable to archaeological projects as well as museum collections. Through my work with the Arch Street Project, I have been able to learn about proper protocols for handling and storing human remains. One of the main things that it is important to remember in this work is that you are a custodian of these remains. Kim was legally entrusted with care of the remains until they are reburied in 2023 and as someone working in her lab I am also held to the same standards of care and respect for the personhood of these individuals.

Something I’ve learned that I wasn’t initially expecting to be how to communicate with everyday people about this kind of work. For most it isn’t immediately apparent what can be learned about the past or about someone from looking at human skeletal remains. Explaining the intricacies of this work  takes skill and I am really glad that I was able to start developing this skill through conversations with my classmates and other peers who I told about my internship.