Collection Artwork
A black-and-white photograph shows a crowd of people walking up the steps of a large classical-style building while a figure in a long modest black shift stands watching the crowd.
A black-and-white photograph shows a crowd of people walking up the steps of a large classical-style building while a figure in a long modest black shift stands watching the crowd.
A black-and-white photograph shows a crowd of people walking up the steps of a large classical-style building while a figure in a long modest black shift stands watching the crowd.
A black-and-white photograph shows a crowd of people walking up the steps of a large classical-style building while a figure in a long modest black shift stands watching the crowd.
Carrie Mae Weems (born Portland, Oregon, 1953)
When and Where I Enter the British Museum
2006
digital print
paper size (visible): 29 1/2 x 19 5/8 in.
frame size: 30 3/4 x 20 7/8 x 1 1/2 in.
image size: 18 3/4 x 14 3/4 in.
Gift of Ann and Mel Schaffer Family Collection
London, England, United Kingdom, Europe
2017.22.12
AP 1/10

Installation views

Object Label

Carrie Mae Weems’ work explores themes of power and its consequences through the lenses of race, class, and gender. Weems situates herself outside the British Museum in a state of contemplation, questioning if and how she should enter. She stands clothed in all black, offset and contrasted by the swarms of tourists dressed in lighter colors and moving with ease. Through this juxtaposition, she complicates for whom museums are intended and who is welcome in this space. Weems problematizes artistic institutions as mainly white and male by situating herself in a stand-off not only with the museum’s entrance but with a large banner promoting a Michelangelo exhibition. Her presence both confronts and threatens it. As figures file into the museum, moving as a crowd, Weems stands in defiance, aware of what she will find on the inside, including stolen artifacts, displays of imperial conquest, and assertions of dominance manifested in objects.

–Rose White ‘20

From the exhibition: When and Where I Enter (October 20, 2018 – January 6, 2019)

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.

Tang Collective Catalog


This image encapsulates part of the African-American experience—trying to understand your place within the larger sociocultural framework of revered institutions built on an imperial and colonial past. Carrie Mae Weems has placed herself within the context of this piece as a critique. I appreciate Weems for giving us that space. It lets me know that I’m not alone in this kind of struggle. It’s okay to feel distance from that institution, and to not necessarily feel like this full history is for you or speaking to you in a direct way, and it’s okay to question the canon.

Learn more

When and Where I Enter
Exhibition
Amber N. Wiley on Carrie Mae Weems
Video
Essay
Beck Krefting on Empathic Looking
Essay
i
Pattern by Madeleine Welsch ’17
Inspired by the exhibition Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent
The Tang Pattern Project celebrates the Museum’s 20th anniversary. Organized by Head of Design Jean Tschanz-Egger, past and current Tang Design Interns created patterns inspired by the Museum’s exhibition and event history.