Now that you all have had a chance to think about and analyze individual museums in your museum report, this discussion post will help you to think about some of the current debates taking place within museums as well as the role of museums in today’s society. As you know there are many different kinds of museums and while we focus on art museums particularly, they share similar concerns (on a side note galleries are different from museums in that the work shown in galleries is often for sale; other times galleries are smaller spaces that exhibit work [that may or may not be for sale] such as on college and university campuses). The history of museums is fascinating (click here for more info on that).
It is my hope that through these kinds of critical questions, you all can hold museums to a higher standard. With this in mind, please select one topic to write about.
Scroll to the bottom to see optional extra credit prompt!
TOPIC #1 #MeToo and Museums
For this topic, read the following articles about how museums are attempting to address works in their collections by (largely famous) artists who are accused of sexual assault and harassment. Then in 300 words or more, summarize the debate and include your opinion. Remember to cite your sources.
Some questions to consider: How can museums best respond to such accusations and correctly contextualize it for the visitor? Do you think museums have a responsibility to include and address this history/these accusations or is that beyond the realm of the museum? What are some options for how museums should best respond – edit labels, take down work, etc.?
- https://walkerart.org/magazine/soundboard-me-too-sexual-harrassment-rashayla-marie-brown (click through and read all five short view points)
TOPIC #2 Difficult Histories and Museums
For this topic, read the following articles about how history museums are dealing with difficult histories in the US around the enslavement of people. Then in 300 words or more, summarize the debate and include your opinion. Remember to cite your sources.
Some questions to consider: How are museums attempting to revise their presentations to include a more historically accurate depiction of slavery? How are audiences responding and are people visiting or opting not to because it is too ‘difficult’ to learn about? How is this complicated by the fact that museums are often driven by ticket sales?
TOPIC #3 Money and Museums
For this topic, read the following articles about how the public should ask questions (and critique) where museums get their funding. Then in 300 words or more, summarize the debate and include your opinion. Remember to cite your sources.
Some questions to consider: Do you think museums should be transparent about their sources of funding and sponsorship? What could be the benefit of this and what could be a downside? How could where funding comes from be problematic?
Topic #4 Decolonizing the Museum
For this topic, read the following articles about the move to ‘decolonize’ the museum. Then in 300 words or more, summarize the debate and include your opinion. Remember to cite your sources.
Some questions to think about include: What does it mean to decolonize the museum and what is an example of doing so? What is the benefit and why do you think museums are being asked to do this now?
WEEK 5 EXTRA CREDIT (3 points): I know this summer has been difficult for a number of you in so many ways. Art has a way of helping to express how we feel during times like this. Select a work of art from Google Arts & Culture that best expresses how you’re feeling (and how you’re feeling can be many things – optimistic, down, stressed, tired, unmotivated, productive, creative). PS – Please make sure it is a different one from your Museum Report.
- Write a short paragraph (of about 250 words) at the end of your Written Assignment explaining why you picked the work you did and how it relates to how you’re feeling right now.
- Maybe you or your family/friends been affected by COVID-19, Black Lives Matter movement, and/or the economy. Or maybe you are experiencing other hardships right now. Maybe there have been unexpected positive things that have happened to you this year that you’d like to have represented in your artwork instead.
- All ways of interpreting this prompt are valid and welcomed.
- You can turn in the extra credit without completing the Written Assignment. You can submit just the extra credit here or email it to me by the deadline.
- Please include a link to the Google Arts & Culture artwork page and include all the artwork info like artist, title, date, medium, etc. (no need to include a photo).
- Check out these quick links but feel free to search within the site as well: