Introduction: Museums and Public Space

This semester I will be working with Gretchen Bender and CJ Dawson in the course HAA 0125 Museums: Society and Inclusion? to engage and work with students in the questioning of museums and their role in our communities today. My CUTF project is centered on the theme of public space in museums. Especially during this time when gathering looks very different or even non-existent, it is important to consider how physical space in the museum (and elsewhere) operates in relation to a public. Scholars have parsed how the museum space paradoxically broadcasts power and enforces civility as well as creates a welcoming space for congregating and being with others. I’m interested especially in the tension between these two concepts and how institutions can address their intimidating monumentality and exclusionary practices in order to make a broader public feel comfortable in the space.

My project proposes that students undertake a documentation of public space of their surroundings, whatever that means to them whether it be an empty parking lot or a sculpture garden. The students will take photographs of the space and connect it to the weekly readings of the public space unit in a type of field journal. Altogether, the class will produce an archive of public space of this time period, focusing on what rituals various public space prompts, who is there, and, furthermore, who is not there. The goal of this project in particular is to embrace these new difficult circumstances and allow them to prompt new lines of inquiry and allow for investigation of cracks within the normative museum structure. As a result, I hope to develop my own thinking of public space in relation to museums, especially as I hope to pursue a career in that industry after graduating.

Teaching and curation share many aspects as they both are rooted in the creation of a sequence of activities and encounters within tight constraints in order to engage with an audience in some way. In this way, as a recipient of this teaching fellowship, I will have the opportunity to both enhance my teaching capabilities and also further my long-term curatorial career goals.

I am an Art History major with minors in Museum Studies and French. Apart from my coursework, I love to read and cook! I just finished reading When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, a poetry collection by Chen Chen, and I’ve most recently baked a Czech coffee cake with plums on the top.

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