One day in September 2017 we entered the Royal Ontario Museum as researchers and creators for the first time. We met at the side door, the staff entrance, signed in at the security desk, and were issued visitors badges. The Curator of Anthropology Arni Brownstone led us through a locked door, down a twisting corridor and up a staff elevator to the Anthropology Department collections area. We were hushed, nervous, and uncertain.
The anthropology collection room is like a vault. Massive mobile storage cases made of metal and painted pale gray are set on sliding tracks in the centre of the room. Metal shelves containing masks, baskets and other paraphernalia line the walls. Counting the students, the instructor, the project manager, and the teaching assistant there were twelve of us that first day so it was crowded in the vault. And when Tracey the curatorial assistant, rolled the storage cases apart to reveal the artefact drawers inside, the space became even more close and crowded.