Neal Matherne joined the Tang Teaching Museum and the Lucy Scribner Library in July 2018 as The Mellon Museum-Library Collection Ethnographer. As project director, he is responsible for the creation of an inventory of primary source collections consisting of contextual and historical narratives, constructed through ethnographic research (participant-observation, informal consultation, and formal interviews with institutional community members). The ultimate goal of this project is an assemblage of collection stories, created through the inclusion of multiple voices and perspectives. Matherne hopes this will inspire new approaches to using our primary sources across the Skidmore College campus.
Prior to coming to the Tang Teaching Museum, Matherne worked at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago as the Regenstein Post-Doctoral Pacific Research Fellow. He was involved with outreach to the Chicagoland Filipinx community, linking them to the Field Museum’s collection of 10,000 objects from the early twentieth-century Philippines. He is also an ethnomusicologist and a former instructor at the University of the Philippines Diliman and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His research interests include art, folk, and popular music of the Philippines, American popular music, memory studies, ethnographic approaches to heritage, nationalism in Southeast Asia, and art in peace and war. While completing his PhD in Music and MA in Southeast Asian studies at the University of California, Riverside, Matherne conducted research in Quezon City and the National Capital Region of the Philippines. This culminated in his 2014 dissertation, “Naming the Artist, Composing the Philippines: Listening for the Nation.”