Renewed motivation, positioning statements, curiosity cabinets, and Figma…

The naturalia and artificialia accrued by such men primarily consisted of objects considered rare, foreign, and bizarre to the collector and their peers. As such, many now look to these collections to better understand, in the words of James Clifford, “the restless power and desire of the modern West to collect the world” and the manner in which the rich and influential went about worldmaking in their time period.

After writing my positioning statement I started to wonder whether even the notion of a curiosity cabinet was maybe a defining feature of a colonial past?
I found an interesting article which also led me to the work of Mårten Snickare. His essays suggest that European Museums are entwined in colonialism and perhaps museums as we know them today wouldn’t exist without colonialism.

Ole Worm, Museum Wormianum, 1655. Copper engraving print.

How are we to approach these objects today? How best to deal productively with the unease they provoke? Are there ethically defendable ways to maintain the display of colonial objects in Western museums? What might we do with the objects? What might they do to us? I do not pretend to have the answers to these urgent and delicate questions—after all, they are issues that haunt museum directors and curators all over the Western world

Mårten Snickare, Colonial Objects in Early Modern Sweden and Beyond

European collectors, curators and museum-goers alike continued to approach non-European objects with a self-appointed right to order, display, and interpret. In the wake of decolonization and the postcolonial turn, though, none of this can be taken for granted any longer. Colonial objects in Western museums have become a problem and an embarrassment. They are Das Unbehagen im Museum, to quote the title of an Austrian anthology on postcolonial museology.5

Mårten Snickare, Colonial Objects in Early Modern Sweden and Beyond

Once the objects of colonization, how might they best be part of decolonial processes, leading to a greater appreciation of the objects themselves, but also to a long-overdue re-envisioning of museums and display? The museums in Western capitals flourish, attracting increasing numbers of visitors from all over the world and reaching out globally with overseas branches. And yet the institution of the museum is in the throes of a deep crisis. How to argue for the relevance of an institution so deeply entangled in the history of European
colonialism? How to shape a role, not just as part of an international tourist industry and event culture, but as a meaningful and meaning-making voice in a global dialogue about histories, presences, and possible futures? With their long-standing involvement in the entangled histories of museums and colonialism, the tomahawk,
the goavddis, and other colonial objects have an important part to play in the re-envisioning of the Western museum.

Mårten Snickare, Colonial Objects in Early Modern Sweden and Beyond
photo from Cabinets of Curiosities, pp. 10-11

When I sat down to write my positioning statement I instantly visually thought a curiosity cabinet would be an awesome way to display the items. After an inkling that actually the whole notion of a curiosity cabinet could be a colonial concept I found the essay of Mårten Snickare. My inkling was correct and interestingly the whole concept of the museum is also steeped in contradictions. I like the sentence describing European collectors, curators and museum goers viewing the objects with a self-appointed right to order, display and interpret. At this point I’m also really conscious of time. I feel like I could go down this route for ages and research further into how the whole museum structure is entwined in colonialism, but no…

Self-portrait of Charles Willson Peale, 1882, opening the curtain to his Philadelphia natural history museum, a showcase of scientific classification. (photo:

Now is the time for proposing my solution as part of this project.
Before I do though… isn’t this a great painting!

The above is my first sketch of a new kind of curiosity cabinet, I needed to start by changing the name. I trawled thesauruses to find a word that would help people see the journey this project is trying to take them on. What I landed on was Disperse.


At the time of looking the Ethnography and Folk Medicine section on the digital archive had over 3000 artifacts with images listed. I decided for the purpose of this project I would pick 1% and feature them on the platform I was making. I picked the objects at random, one from each page of results, I cleaned the images up a little and set them out in my dispersing draw [working title] and then I was ready to begin.

Back to Figma

I hope to have my Figma flow in a finished state by the end of this week, this platform had developed as I’ve been working on it but I’m really happy to see where it is going.
Disperse the Archive is gathering stories and connections. Items in the folk medicine collection were made, used, shared and used to heal people in the communities they were from. We can learn from this collection and use the digital archive as an example of how sensitive collections could be viewed online. Many of these items were aquired through past colonial activities. This collection aims to repatriate items and build a more holistic digital story of each items past.

Notes on the video showing current Figma Flow:
Need to get SM logo on the web page
Make an identity for ‘disperse’
Make Map View / Object View buttons much smaller
Maybe make the disperse draw items a bit smaller or have more white space around them?
On the object view page get rid of the ‘show stories and connections button’
Make an ‘add story / connection page’
Make a ‘define story / connection page’

What other elements do I want to present as part of this project?
Visually identity for the platform
Platform in situ on the SM web page
The Disperse annual book, mock this up! This would be an annual marker of where the digital archive is currently at.
Poster campaign promoting the platform?

This weeks lecture material.

I enjoyed reading the book by Beirut, M. (2015). In the book he spoke about logos actually just being an add campaign and visual identity being quite an easy concept. If you were to use one typeface for long enough you have a visual identity! That’s a pretty simplistic example but if you look at the VW ads to the left they are still using the same framework for their printed add campaigns.

The simple, block colour, futura typeface is undoubtedly VW. That is down to the fact they have repeated this for so many years.

Visual Identity

Very peri, pantone colour of the year 2022

After reading the book by Beirut, M. (2015) I felt confident in the fact that I shouldn’t reinvent the wheel when it came to creating a visual identity for this project.
SM had undergone a brand refresh in 2017, stepping away from a computer generated font to the one we see today.

I decided I wanted to blend a little bit of old and new with my visual identity for this project, that is after all what the project is trying to do. Show new perspectives on old items.
I had a look into the new SM font, SMG Sans, I really like its clean and condensed feel, however I decided to steer a little away from it. Still inspired by the talk from Elizabeth Klement at Dutch Design Week I decided I should seek out a font made by a women.

There’s a fantastic resource I’ve found called BADASS LIBRE FONTS BY WOMXN

These fonts are shared under Free, Libre and Open Source licenses, which allow anyone to use them, modify their design, contribute more glyphs or styles to their non-nuclear families, build upon them and redistribute them further.

I decided to use the font Gemunu Libre for my disperse the archive identity. It has a bit of similarity to the old visual identity which I like and I copied the new identities dropping in weight which I think illustrated the word dispersing rather well. As for colour a quick google search led me on quite a fun path ‘what colour best represents innovation?’. As you can imagine there was a lot of random rubbish that appeared but the Pantone Colour of the year 2022 was what caught my eye the most.

“The Pantone Color of the Year reflects what is taking place in our global culture, expressing what people are looking for that colour can hope to answer. Creating a new colour for the first time in the history of our Pantone Color of the Year educational colour program reflects the global innovation and transformation taking place. As society continues to recognise colour as a critical form of communication, and a way to express and affect ideas and emotions and engage and connect, the complexity of this new red violet infused blue hue highlights the expansive possibilities that lay before us”.
Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute.

Blue is a trusted colour. It represents creativity and innovation. I love that in 2022 Pantone chose to create a brand new colour reflecting global transformation. I think it is a very fitting colour for me to use in this project.

Developing the Figma Flow!

Start of the day
I managed to get the text boxes to work! Woo!!


Disperse the archive // Assemble the archive // Bring Together the archive // Collate the archive // Archive the archive // repatriate the archive //

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