Conal Mccarthy

Programme Director School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies


Teaching in 2017

Dr Conal McCarthy profile picture


PhD (Victoria), MA (Canterbury), Dip Tchg (Canterbury)

Career summary

Conal has degrees in English, Art History, Museum Studies and te reo Māori. He has strong links with museums, art galleries and heritage organisations around New Zealand, and has worked in a variety of professional roles including education and public programmes, interpretation, governance, collections and curatorial work. His academic research interests include museum history, theory and practice, exhibition history, Māori visual culture and contemporary heritage issues. He is an assessor for the Australian Research Council, and has completed an ARC funded research project on museums, anthropology and governmentality with an international team. The New Zealand component of this research focused on museum collecting, fieldwork ethnography and indigenous agency and is the subject of several recent and forthcoming publications. His next research project Indigenous Museologies will examine the relationships between museums and indigenous people in postsettler nations in collaboration with several overseas and local scholars.

Conal has published widely on the historical and contemporary Māori engagement with museums, including the books Exhibiting Māori: A history of colonial cultures of display (2007) and Museums and Māori: Heritage professionals, indigenous collections, current practice (2011). His next book is Museum practice: The contemporary museum at work (2015) in the series International Handbooks of Museum Studies. This edited collection includes chapters on many aspects of current professional work from audience, leadership and policy to collections, exhibitions and conservation. His next book co-authored with Bronwyn Labrum of Massey University will explore history of/in museums. Conal is interested in supervising graduate research in any of the above areas either focused on New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific or comparative work.

Conal writes about his recent research and writing in his Museum History, Theory and Practice.

Selected publications


Museum Practice Volume 4 in the series International Handbook of Museum Studies. General editors Sharon Macdonald and Helen Rees Leahy. Oxford and Malden, MA: Wiley 2015. ISBN no.  9781405198509.

Museums and Maori: Heritage professionals, indigenous collections, current practice. Wellington: Te Papa Press. Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press, 2011.

Exhibiting Māori: A history of colonial cultures of display. Berg: Oxford & New York. Wellington: Te Papa Press, 2007.

Forrester and Lemon of Oamaru, architects. Oamaru: Historic Places Trust, 2002.

Book chapters

With Fiona Cameron. ‘The Māori as he was.’ In Collecting, ordering, governing: Anthropology and liberal Government, Tony Bennett, Fiona Cameron, Nelia Dias, Ben Dibley, Ira Jacknis and Conal McCarthy. Durham NC: Duke University Press, forthcoming 2016.

'Historicising the ‘indigenous international’: Museums, anthropology, and transpacific networks,’ TransPacific Americas: Encounters and engagements between the Americas and the South Pacific, edited by Eveline Duerr and Philipp Schorch. London and New York: Routledge, forthcoming 2015.

‘The travelling Other: A Māori narrative from a visit to Australia in 1874.’ In Britain and the narration of travel in the nineteenth century: Texts, images, objects, edited by Kate Hill. Farnham: Ashgate, forthcoming 2015.

‘‘Two branches of the brown Polynesians’: Ethnological fieldwork, colonial governmentality and the ‘dance of agency.’ In New Zealand’s empire, edited by Katie Pickles and Catharine Coleborne. London and New York: Manchester University Press, forthcoming 2015.

With Jonathan Mané-Wheoki. ‘Afterword: The whare Mataatua and some thoughts about things.’ In He taonga, he kōrero: Lives of objects, edited by Annabelle Cooper, Lachy Paterson and Angela Wanhalla. Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2015.

‘Grounding museum studies: Introducing practice’. In Museum Practice, edited by Conal McCarthy. Volume 4 in the series International Handbooks of Museum Studies. General editors Sharon Macdonald and Helen Rees Leahy. Oxford & Malden MA: Wiley Blackwell, 2015, pp.xxxvii-liv.

‘The practice of repatriation: A case study from New Zealand,’ in Museums and restitution: New practices, new approaches, edited by Kostos Arvanitis and Louise Tythacott. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2014.

‘‘To foster and encourage the study and practice of Maori arts and crafts’: Indigenous material culture, colonial culture and museums in New Zealand’, in Craft & Community: The material culture of place & politics, 19th-20th Century, edited by Janice Helland, Beverly Lemire and Alena Buis. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2014, pp59-82.

‘Carving out a place in the Better Britain of the South Pacific: Māori in New Zealand museums and exhibitions,’ in Curating empire: Museums and the British imperial experience, edited by John McAleer and Sarah Longair. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012, pp56-81.

‘Revd J.F. Mayo’s tapa,’ in Te Hao nui: The great catch: Object stories from Te Manawa, edited by Fiona McKergow and Kerry Taylor.  Auckland: Random House, 2011, pp82-7.

‘Postcolonial pasts and postindigenous futures: A critical genealogy of “Māori art”,’ in Proceedings of Crossing Cultures: Conflict, migration, convergence, edited by Jayne Anderson. Melbourne: The Miegunyah Press, 2009, pp829-34.

‘Displaying natural history: The Colonial Museum’ in The amazing world of James Hector, edited by Simon Nathan. Wellington: Te Awa Press, 2008, pp49-61.

‘Before Te Maori: A revolution deconstructed,’ in Museum revolutions: How museums change and are changed, edited by  Simon Knell, Suzanne McCleod and Sheila Watson. Routledge: London & New York, 2007, pp117-33.

Journal articles


With Arapata Hakiwai and Philipp Schorch. ‘Globalizing Mana Taonga and Mātauranga Māori: Encounter, Travel, Virtuality.’ Museum Anthropology 64(3) forthcoming 2015.

With Eric Dorfman, Arapata Hakiwai, and Āwhina Twomey. ‘Mana taonga: Connecting communities in New Zealand museums through ancestral Māori culture,’ Museum International 64(3) forthcoming 2015.


‘Introduction: New research on museums, anthropology and governmentality,’ Museum and Society special issue—Museum, Field, Colony: Collecting, displaying and governing people and things, Guest editors: Fiona Cameron and Conal McCarthy, January 2015 13(1): 1-6.

With Fiona Cameron. ‘Two anthropological assemblages: New Zealand museums, Native policy, and Māori “culture areas” and “adaptation,” ’ Museum & Society January 2015 13(1): 88-106.

"Empirical anthropologists advocating cultural adjustments”: The anthropological governance of Āpirana Ngata and the Native Affairs Department.’ History and Anthropology March 2014 25(2): 280-95. available online at:

‘The rules of (Maori) art: Bourdieu’s cultural sociology and Māori visitor in New Zealand museums’, The Journal of Sociology 49: 2-3 June 2013. available online at:

‘Our works of ancient times’: History, colonisation and agency at the 1906-7 New Zealand International Exhibition,’ Museum History Journal 2:2 2009, pp119-42.

With Joanna Cobley, ‘Museums and Museum Studies in New Zealand: A survey of historical developments,’ History Compass Vol 7, January 2009, available online at:

With David M. Mason, ‘Museums and the culture of new media: An empirical model of museum websites,’ Museum Management and Curatorship 23:1 2008, pp63-80.

‘Review article: Museum factions—the transformation of museum studies’, Museum and society 5:3 November 2007, available online at:

‘Hailing the subject: Māori visitors, museum display and the sociology of cultural reception’, New Zealand Sociology 21:1 2006, pp108-130.

With David M. Mason, ' “The feeling of exclusion”: Young people's perceptions of art galleries,’ Museum Management and Curatorship 21:1 2006, pp20-31.

With Bronwyn Labrum, ‘Museum studies and museums: Bringing together theory and practice,’ Te Ara: Journal of Museums Aotearoa 30:2 December 2005, pp4-11.

‘Objects of empire? Displaying Māori at International exhibitions 1873-1924.’ Journal of New Zealand Literature 23:1 2005, pp52-70.

Reference works

“Museums,” Entry in the Culture and Society Theme, Te Ara: Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Ministry for Culture & Heritage,  2014.

“Te Papa,” Entry in the Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, Springer, forthcoming 2014.

‘New Zealand Exhibition, Dunedin 1865,’ pp34-36; ‘New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition, Dunedin, 1889-90’, pp108-10; ‘New Zealand International Exhibition, Christchurch, 1906-7’, pp87-90; ‘New Zealand Centennial Exhibition, Wellington, 1940,’ pp309-13; in John Findling and Kimberly Pelle (eds) Encyclopedia of Worlds Fairs and Expositions. McFarland Press, Jefferson North Carolina and London, 2008. These four entries each include 1500 words of text, plus images, statistics and an annotated bibliography.

Conference papers

‘Beyond representation: Rethinking images of Māori in museums, exhibitions, ethnography and art’, Gottfired Lindauer: Painting New Zealand, Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, February 20-21, 2015.

‘Taonga and Māori, museums and collecting 1900-1940,’ Museums, Collections, Agency: A Symposium Australian Museum Sydney, April 1, 2014.

‘With Fiona Cameron, ‘Museum fieldwork, governmentality and indigenous agency: The anthropological assemblages of HD Skinner and the Board of Māori Ethnological Research,’ Collecting and Governing Cultures, Council for Museum Anthropology Invited session, American Anthropological Association Conference, Chicago October 14, 2013.

Keynote address: “Some thoughts about things: Theorising colonialism’s culture as performance, agency and practice,” Colonial objects: Inaugural conference of the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture, University of Otago, Dunedin 11 February 2013.

‘Biculturalism and its discontents: Making Māori art in the museum,’ paper presented at the College Art Association Conference, New York, February 11, 2013.

‘Māori and New Zealand’s Pacific empire: Ethnographic fieldwork, colonial governmentality and the ‘dance of agency,’ Pacific History Association Conference, Victoria University of Wellington, December 7, 2012.

‘Scholars and savages? The Dominion Museum ethnographic expeditions,’ paper presented as part of the panel Museum, Field, Colony, Metropolis 2: Assembling Cultures, Governing Others, presented at Crossroads in Cultural Studies, Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris, 2-6 July 2012

‘Integrating heritage theory and heritage practice,’ paper as part of New Zealand panel, Contested heritage in the postcolonial Pacific: Case studies from Aotearoa New Zealand, presented at the Association of Critical Heritage Studies: Inaugural Conference, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, June 5-8, 2011.

‘Reconciling nation and native: Indigenous art and settler nationalism at New Zealand’s national museum,’ invited paper, Museums and identities: EuNaMus project seminar, Acropolis Museum, Athens, April 25 2012.

‘Representing self and other? Māori exhibitions at the national museum 1865-2001,’ S’exposer au musée: Représentations muséographiques de Soi, Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, November 29, 2011.

Invited keynote: ‘The rules of (Māori) art: Museums, visitors and indigenous culture in the field of New Zealand art,’ Keynote address to the conference Antipodean fields: Bourdieu and southern cultures, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney, Australia, June 8-9, 2011.