Dr Lee Davidson
Dr Lee Davidson has a particular interest in museum exhibitions that enhance intercultural understanding, empathy and openness to others’ perspectives.
Dr Lee Davidson has worked as a teacher and researcher at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington for 23 years. She has a particular interest in museum exhibitions that enhance intercultural understanding, empathy and openness to others’ perspectives.
Lee first connected with Latin America when she studied an exhibition exchange between Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico. This exchange involved E Tū Ake: Māori Standing Strong and Aztecs: Conquest and glory. This work led Lee to develop a long-term research collaboration with Dr Leticia Pérez-Castellanos (Escuela Nacional de Conservación, Restauración y Museografía). Lee and Leticia co-authored Cosmopolitan Ambassadors: International Exhibitions, Cultural Diplomacy and the Polycentral Museum, which won the 2020 Miguel Covarrubias prize for best research in museums.
Lee and Leticia now draw on a transnational, intercultural network of researchers in New Zealand and Mexico for specific exhibitions and projects. Through a programme called Cultural Sector Partnerships, they also organise workshops, exchanges and internships for New Zealand professionals in the cultural and creative sectors. These opportunities give New Zealanders the chance to engage with Mexican culture, and develop cultural awareness and an open mind. Lee’s most recent project is the exhibition De la Milpa a la Mesa: A Mexican Food Journey, which toured New Zealand between 2021 and 2023.
In December 2022, Lee presented at the Association of Critical Heritage Studies conference in Santiago, Chile. The conference theme was interculturalities, and Lee spoke about putting intercultural theory into practice to create polycentral and cosmopolitan international exhibitions. As a result of this visit, Lee hopes to establish ongoing partnerships between museums in New Zealand, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and Patagonia, based on the internship model she developed for Cultural Sector Partnerships and the resulting exhibition De la Milpa a la Mesa: A Mexican Food Journey.