Staff Profile

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Christopher Philipp

Regenstein Collections Manager, Anthropology

Gantz Family Collections Center
Collection Management

I am a collections manager in the Anthropology Department at The Field Museum where I am responsible for the care of the Museum's anthropology collections from the Pacific islands.  I have previously worked, and occasionally assist, with the African ethnographic, Meso, Central, and South American archaeological and ethnographic, and Southeast Asian collections in the Anthropology Department.

Chris Philipp graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, with Museum Studies and Ethnomusicology minors from Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin, Cum Laude, in 1996.  Philipp has been employed at the Field Museum since February of 1997.  He began as a volunteer with the Curator of African Archaeology and Ethnology, Dr. Chap Kusimba, and later that same year, was hired as a Collections Management Assistant for the de-installation of Hall 9 (South America) and the rehousing / reorganization of the archaeological and ethnographic collections from the Americas. 

From 2000 until June of 2005, Philipp was the permanent Collections Manager for the African, Meso, Central, and South American, Pacific, South and South East Asian, and oversize collections.  Most recently, Philipp was promoted to be the Regenstein Collections Manager of Pacific Anthropology, the first endowed collections management position for the Department of Anthropology.  He is currently overseeing the movement, rehousing, and reorganization of the Pacific collections in their state-of-the-art new home; the Collections Resource Center (CRC). 

While now focusing on the Pacific Collections, Philipp also assists with other geographical areas and in 2006 visited the Island of Ustupu, San Blas Islands, Panama.  While there, he and his wife Juliana, who was then employed in the Anthropology Department, interviewed and recorded Kuna men and women regarding molas and mola making.  This was funded as part of the Museum Loan Network’s oral histories initiative.  While there the Philipp’s also collected several molas which will become part of the Museum’s Anthropology holdings.  In April / May of 2006 John Terrell sent Philipp to visit New Zealand, and in particular the Auckland War Memorial Museum and Te Papa, New Zealand’s National Museum in Wellington.  While there Philipp gained firsthand experience meeting with and discussing Museum issues and practice with fellow colleagues.

In December of 2007, Philipp traveled to the Marquesas Islands (Nuku Hiva and Ua Pou) with stops in Tahiti and Moorea as well.  While there, he attended the 7th Marquesas Arts Festival.  This was funded by the Anthropology Department's current and active collecting program.  Philipp collected several objects from the Festival which have become part of the Museum’s Anthropology holdings.  On this trip, Philipp collected the first example of a toere (Polynesian wooden slit drum).  In August of 2010, Philipp traveled to the Cook Islands (Rarotonga and Mangaia) to attend the 10th Annual Pacific Arts Association Conference.  While on Mangaia, Philipp participated in a tapa (bark cloth) making workshop.  Afterward, he traveled on to the Kingdom of Tonga, visiting the islands of Tongatapu, and those in the Vava'u and Ha'apai Groups.  Funded by the Anthropology Department's collecting fund, Philipp brought back several examples of modern material culture from both the Cook Islands and Tonga - approximately 300 items in total.

Philipp has written and completed 6 Museum Loan Network Photo Survey grants while at the Museum.  This included “A Survey of the Pacific Musical Instrument Collection” with Dr. Steve Nash and Dr. John Terrell.  Chris is also a composer and musician, having written, composed, recorded, and produced the words and music for numerous unpublished sound recordings that utilize a wide array of musical instruments, including those from the Museum’s collections that Chris sampled and recorded.  Compositions have recently been included in 2 films being produced for Dr. Chapurukha Kusimba.