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Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology


20th century

"I was immediately drawn to this object and its bold repair. So much care and skills have gone into fixing it. The break reminds me of the gourd's fragility. But the intricately stitched scar tells me about its journey of recovery and strength."

Lucie Carreau

Scarred gourd

My fascination for repaired objects started in 2007, in Paris, visiting an exhibition entitled ‘Wounded objects: repairs in Africa' at the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac. For the first time, I attended a show that exhibited broken objects for what they were, and placed the spotlight on what most museums would hide: the cracks, splits, and holes. Their breaks were evidence that they were valued.

One of the greatest challenges of ethnographic museums is to make visible the makers and users of the object. Often, historic documentation is limited to the information collectors have passed on to the Museum. Yet, broken and repaired objects offer a glimpse into their use and importance within their communities of origin. These objects may have been heirlooms or essential to perform daily activities. Perhaps they had spiritual or religious purposes, were difficult to make, or the materials hard to acquire. Regardless of the reason behind the repairs, the objects were valued enough for menders to devote to them time, resources, and a great deal of skills and creativity. In so many cases, the broken object acts as a blank canvas for a new object to emerge – one that is adorned by its repair, creating a new dimensionality, balance and dynamics.


Repaired objects remind me of what was so nearly lost: these objects were and remain vulnerable. But they also astonish me by their strength and resilience, both born from an enormous amount of care in the past, which our project is dedicated to continuing in the present.

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Lucie Carreau - Collections Team Coordinator (Stores Move)

Lucie Carreau (PhD) is an art historian specialised in Pacific material culture, with a wider and strong interest in the history of collections and historical museum processes. Her role at MAA is to coordinate the move of the collections housed in the external stores to a new facility, supervising the Collections Assistants and trouble-shooting problems arising from the documentation of the collections.

Two million years of human history. One million artefacts. Countless astonishing stories.