Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

Thinking toward our exhibit: Ed class, Oct. 6

jccohen's picture

Compiled notes on Ed class discussion toward our exhibit/thinking about our exhibit as educators:

Class discussion - response to silent discussion:

  • Dialogue about being African-American vs. just American – where do we stand in relation to the exhibit? What is our relationship to being African?  Can never be resolved maybe…
  • Thinking about audience and where our collection comes from.  about the artifacts we have (what would it mean to give them back?)
  • How do we make sure that people understand the message we’re trying to convey?  What about people who don’t know how to read a museum exhibit as deeply as other people?  Couple in cage (satire//real) … how do we make sure that people are understanding the message that we’re trying to convey?  is there any way to ensure this?
  • What are our “irreducibles” and what are things we’re willing to/can/should compromise on?
  • Who is our audience and what do we want them to take away?
  • We have been talking about how critical we are… how do we avoid presenting things in a damage-based way and to what extent are we able to present in a desire-based way? We have to learn a little bit first.
  • Acknowledging that we may be presenting one thing but people may/probably will take it in other ways than we intend – we should focus less on what the audience will take away from the exhibit and more on what we want to say.
  • Idea of “readiness of audience”…  Privilege and prioritize the art over the audience.
  • Raising awareness of names/people who are and aren’t in the room. How do we draw viewers’ attention to the implicit bias in images? How do we develop a framework for what we’re doing?
  • If you’re filling a quota are you really not filling the space? When we think about labels and how to title our exhibition, how do we avoid this? How does our exhibit connect with the exhibit that will take up the other half of the room?
  • The museum space as political – why do we expect the NMAAHC to be political and not other museums? Why is it political? Because it’s about black bodies, black history… stereotyping of museums as tied to stereotyping of bodies. How political is our exhibit?
  • What does it even mean for art and the exhibit to be political? Where do we start (in the sense of the message and purposing of how we’re displaying these pieces) . What’s the value, aesthetics, ethics of what we’re trying to do?
  • Interesting: prevalence of word ‘audience’ – what difference would language shift from audience to “learners” make?
  • Ideas of “success” and who determines what that means; can the objects offer us insight into that?
  • Conversation yesterday about “openings” what is it going to look like when we first put people in the space? That will be a presentation as well (what WE say, how we present i)
  • Think deeply about the perceptions of the audience.  Self-reflecting confrontation for the audience member -- upon entrance, the audience should have to think deeply about entering this space as whoever they are.  Upon stepping in, a check-in “I’ve entered this space, I know who I am”
  • Who are we doing this work for? Push back on the museum space as a public service/a public good; just try to do the objects justice and appreciate the art.
  • Not only what do we want the audience to walk away with, but where do they walk away to? Do we want to direct them to next steps/further information?