The museum is defined as a “place where important things are preserved; a building or institution where objects of artistic, historical or scientific importance and value are kept, studied, and put on display.” But who decides what “important things” should be preserved? And what narrative is implicit in a particular museum’s existence? How do museums shape historical memory, and how do we train students (and ourselves) to interrupt and more fully understand those narratives?
This course will examine ways in which museums deal with the evolving political, social and ethical values of a community, and how such decisions may be interrogated in an academic setting. Through visits to local museums, lectures and seminar-style discussions, we will come to a fuller understanding of effective modes that utilize the museum as a pedagogical tool, and illustrate how effective strategies may be employed in the classroom.
From Andrew Jackson’s antebellum mansion in Tennessee to the Ashanti Palace in Kumasi, Ghana; from the separate entrances marked “black” and “white” and “colored” in Johannesburg’s Apartheid Museum to the folk art collections at the Whitney Museum, leading museum educators will weigh in on the ways in which notions of race, identity and gender inform cultural presentation. We will take a close look at artist Fred Wilson’s installation at the Maryland Historical Society, “Mining the Museum,” in which he sought to make the “viewing/visiting” a welcoming experience for the community at large. Wilson’s intervention serves as an excellent case study for reshaping pedagogical practice in relation to the ‘modern’ museum.
In New York, we will visit alternative spaces offering novel educational approaches, as well as mainstays such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum. Innovative techniques and curatorial practices that engage a diverse and inclusive audience–and aid in expanding existing museum pedagogical practice–will be central to our exploration.
When & Where
Seminar Schedule. Seminars run Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with a midday communal lunch. Seminar conveners may adjust the class schedule in response to participant needs. Special events may also be held during the program’s Peak Week. Participants are required to attend the full week of seminar meetings.
Seminar Materials. Eligible participants are provided with all required seminar materials (books, articles, laboratory equipment, and entrance fees).
Accommodations & Meals. Limited housing accommodations are provided to participants who live more than 50 miles from the program site. All admitted participants are provided with some meals during the program period.
Application Procedure. Applicants should submit the completed application along with all of the following:
- A statement of intent that indicates how the seminar participant will apply what is learned at the home institution
- A current CV
- A letter of support from either the division dean or department head, who is well-acquainted with the applicant’s area of research
- Their institutional liaison officer’s signature