Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

Author: Dominique T. Marcial (page 1 of 5)

NEMA session SEE/Change: Seeing change in How to Offer Online Museum Content to Schools.

NEMA session SEE/Change: Seeing change in How to Offer Online Museum Content to Schools.

Hosted by  David Rau, Director of Education and Outreach at the Florence Griswold Museum in Lyme, CT, the SEE/Change session at NEMA introduced a prototype of online curriculum centered upon one work of art; George H. Durie’s 7 Miles to Farmington.  Using this mid-19th century American piece as the source of content, the session was set up as a panel and included speakers such as Clarissa Cleglio, the Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at UCONN, Leslie Evans, Director and  Curator of the Avery-Copp House, and Caitlin Monahan the Managing director of Jul/Julia Balfour, LLC, to name a few. The panel discussed their collaborative efforts to build this website, touching on both positive and challenging aspects of the project.

These individuals, worked collaboratively on this online project with the aim of bringing museum-quality content to the classroom and the home through an easy, accessible online outlet. the project involved consultation and development with a graphic design team, digital media and visitor experience specialists, curators, etc. The project was aimed at increasing accessibility to art and history in schools and at home; and a website acts as an excellent platform to do so. This website is unique from other museum websites, because it is centered upon one object and not an entire collection or a bunch of object. Durie’s  painting drives the entire site and its content.

The project was prototyped using elementary school students in Connecticut, and the design team was able to ascertain that students enjoyed the inquisitiveness of Visual Thinking Strategy (VTS) throughout the site’s content to discuss activities going on in the painting, the time of year and the historical context of the painting. Students enjoyed zooming in on aspects of the painting and attempting to figure out what was going on. The audience also seemed to like video portions of the site that dug deeper into mid-19th century New England life through  footage that documented activities such as the means to make pounded cheese. This prototyping and evaluation also allowed the design team to test the usefulness and usability of the site’s features, such as presentation, and buttons that zoom in or give more information.

The vastness and depth of possibilities for curriculum surrounding one object speaks to the endless amounts of options our museums hold for object- based learning. Objects tell stories and they are tools that help uncover the past. If an entire website, curriculum plan, set of videos, and activities can be launched around one painting, think of the infinite possibilities that stretch before museums that house entire collections.

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NEMA Conference: Picking Up Where We Left Off.

This past week the New England Museum Association (NEMA) hosted its annual conference from October 25-27 in Falmouth, MA. The theme of this conference was Truth and Trust: Museums in a Polarized World, and over the next few weeks, we will feature guest posts from Tufts grad students about their NEMA experiences and sessions.

The conference picked up right where it had left off on November 9, 2016, a day after the United States Presidential Election, where tensions seemed to run high in the art and culture sector following the results of the election. The conference organizers did effective diligence to the museum world by establishing an expert panel at the NEMA keynote ceremony moderated by Marita Rivero, the Executive Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Boston.

As a Tufts student, I felt a sense of pride in the fact that the topics covered in this panel, such as interpretive authority, repatriation, neutrality, and audience focus were all topics that we as Tufts students cover in our classes every week. I appreciated the ways in which the panel also struggled with the concept of truth, since one person or culture’s interpretive truth may not be the same as another’s. The truth is hard to portray, but we as museum professionals we need to seek as facts from as many perspectives as we can muster so that our truths are a little less subjective, and tell the stories of ALL parties involved.

There was also a sense of uncertainty among this panel when discussing neutrality. Many times we are taught that museums should be neutral, but such is not the case when social tensions and the safety of human beings are at risk. Neutrality actually takes a side of its own, because it is not taking a stance against the perpetrators of racism, sexism, or whatever it may be. Telling the truth is not always neutral………………..

 

With this sense of unity and comradery that conferences seem to bring about in museum professionals, it is of value to list some other upcoming museum professional conferences that may be of interest to blog followers.

The Association of Art Museum Curators – Montreal, Canada May 5-8

Museums and the Web April 18-21, 2018- British Columbia, Canada

American Alliance of Museums May 6-9- Phoenix Arizona

MCNMCN November 7-10, Pittsburgh, PA

Association of State and Local History (AASLH)- Sept 26-29 2018.

Small Museum Association- February 18-20- College Park MD

 

Now that I have laid some NEMA groundwork, stay tuned the next couple of weeks for in depth peeks at some of the specific NEMA conference sessions, and as the NEMA conference picked up right where it left off last year, we will pick up our posts right where we left them this week.

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MFA, Boston Receives 113 Masterpieces

113 Dutch and Flemish painting masterpieces, have been gifted to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, doubling the institutions Dutch collection. Couples, Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo and Susan and Matthew Weatherbie, decided to contribute their two private collections to the museum, which include Rembrants and Rubens. This gift constitutes one of the most significant donations in the institution’s history, and the single largest gift of European Art ever bequeathed to the MFA. According to the Boston Globe, The MFA was one of a handful of New England Museums(who were not named) competing for the van Otterloo collection. Rose-Marie van Otterloo reported to the New York Times that she and her husband are happy their collection will be housed at the MFA where “it can be displayed, loaned and shared with the widest possible audiences.”

 

In addition to their generous art donation, the van Otterloos also intend to establish a Center for Netherlandish Art to house the Haverkamp-Begemann Library. This center will serve as a scholarly research area, and will consist of 20,000 books.

 

Rather than stuffing these collection pieces into storage, the MFA, Boston has graciously decided to host a special installation displaying pieces from these private collections. Visitors can view the art in galleries 243 and 244, and can expect to view 17th century masterpieces such as “Portrait of Aeltje Uylenburgh” by Rembrandt, “Coronation of the Virgin” by Peter Paul Rubens, and “Orpheus Charming the Animals” by Aelbert Cuyp. This will certainly be a gem to explore!

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