Posts by Emily Monty
How can the internet change the way that we conduct research in the humanities? This is a question that scholars have been asking since the earliest days of the web, but as our own relationship with the internet develops through the growth of social networks and smart phones, we continue to find new answers to this question. In my February post I discussed the ways that museums are reaching out to involve adults in the exhibition planning process. These efforts usually take place outside of the museum on interactive online platforms. post: Notes on Modern and Contemporary Art Around the Globe takes these efforts to engage the public a step further. post is a new interactive research platform developed by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. It was launched just two months ago and the concept is still relatively new, but hopefully the website will blossom into a lively community of amateur researchers working alongside scholars affiliated with the MoMA and beyond. The idea is that users will contribute to bibliographies and research, as well as engage in meaningful discussions about contemporary art. In many ways the idea is an elaboration on the idea of community curation. But rather than solicit the community to help plan an exhibition, post brings amateur art lovers, scholars, and artists from outside of the museum into the conversation at an earlier research stage. The resulting collaboration will then feed back into the work of the museum. Read more.
As a teacher and museum educator, one of my most difficult tasks is helping students move from a mode of passive knowledge consumption to one of critical engagement with information. Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is a method traditionally used in museums, and I have found that it gives discussion leaders a way to generate critical thinking. This technique for viewing art was developed by Abigail Housen and Philip Yenawine. It was first tested in museums in the early 1990s. Since then, it has been implemented in museums, schools, and universities around the world. The VTS Institute leads periodic seminars and training sessions throughout the country. I first learned about this technique in a museum studies seminar and have since experienced it as a participant in museum tours. I now use VTS as a tour guide in a university museum and was recently challenged to perform the method in a classroom with a slideshow of digital images. This post offers a meditation on the challenges and rewards of using VTS, and especially on adapting the method for classroom use. Read more.
Crowd sourcing has become trendy within the humanities as a means of opening academic projects to the public. In the museum world, community-curated exhibitions have offered a response to this movement, and a number of these exhibitions have recently occurred along the east coast. These special exhibitions grant the community increased access to museum collections and invite sustained conversations between the public and museum staff. They complicate curatorial authority and the spatial hierarchy accorded by privileged access to storage facilities, even though in most cases the public chooses artworks for these exhibitions from a digitized archive. In fact, allowing the community to use digital media to effectively call up works of art from storage to the exhibition space mirrors trends in the way that we (the public) relate to works of art, that is, through digital means. Platforms like Artsy, for example, allow the user to amass a personal, albeit digital, art collection culled from images of fine art physically held by collections around the world. The community-curated projects I discuss below unfold in various combinations of the digital and physical realms. Each offers its own take on the evolving relationship between the museum and public. Read more.
70 x 7 The Meal act L, Tate Modern, City London
Lucy + Jorge Orta 2006
Table set for an estimated 8000 guests, silkscreen printed table runner and Royal Limoges porcelain plates
Copyright the artists
Courtesy of the artists
Photographer: Anna Kubelik
In October 2013, an estimated 2,000 people will gather in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for a meal organized by French artists Lucy and Jorge Orta. The event, which is part of the artists’ ongoing public art project called 70×7 The Meal, provides a useful lens for examining the overlap between the public humanities and academia. 70×7 is clearly intended for public consumption (literally), and although it is not an academic project, it engages many of the values of that world.
The project began in 2002, and the Philadelphia event will represent its 34th iteration. The name of the project reflects the basic concept of the event: seven guests invite seven more to a communal meal. The artists de-centralize the task of generating a guest list in order to create an economically, socially, and ethnically diverse group of attendees. The meal is not only intended to feed the bodies of the participants, but also to challenge their minds through exposing them to a diverse group of people. Read more.