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In MOA’s Drawers: Putorino (flute)

Designed to accommodate an impressive magnitude of objects, the drawers in MOA’s Multiversity Galleries are home to some of the smallest, earliest, and certainly most underrated, objects in the Museum’s collections. Housing more than 9,000 objects from around the world for public view, the Multiversity Galleries invite visitors to take a deep dive into collections that would typically be stored behind the scenes due to constraints on exhibition spaces.

Versatile in their ability to safely display a wide range of materials from across the globe, these state-of-the-art drawers are where curation and conservation come together. With a gentle tug on the long metal handles the drawers roll open, revealing cultural belongings from past and present to explore.

The Multiversity Galleries drawers make space for thousands of objects, so it can be easy to feel overwhelmed trying to see them all in one visit. If you’re not sure where to begin in exploring the myriad of works on display, seek out this wooden flute with a checkered history.

MOA Collection C90. Photo by Rebecca Pasch.

Putorino (flute) by James Little

Forgeries can be difficult to discern; even when on the lookout for fakes, it’s easy to “blow it.” Take this “Maori” flute, for instance, from MOA’s founding collection from Frank Burnett. This wooden instrument seemingly displays Maori carving, but was actually made by James Little, an infamous English art forger notorious for stealing objects from museums to create replicas that he sold to collectors by mail order. Burnett bought this object in 1910, and it was another 100 years before the truth was uncovered.

Find me: Case 55, Drawer 2.