Museum Studies at Tufts University

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Category: Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic (page 1 of 7)

Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: Museums in the Nudes

by columnist Madeline Karp

There is a trend here in Philadelphia that I think you should know about.

It’s called “Boy-lesque” and it combines burlesque dancing – an artistically-minded nude show – with boys. You could call it male stripping…but that’s not exactly accurate. It’s more about pushing the audience past their comfort zone than the sex. It forces you to talk about objectification, and to think about gender, and consider what it is, exactly, that makes you so squeamish about naked people. (After all, we’re all naked under our clothes, right?)

The thing is, classic burlesque dancing has become passé in the age of HBO and Fifty Shades of Grey. It has lately been repurposed to empower women and promote positive body image. It could be used to talk about serious issues, but it’s hard to shock someone into discussion when the shock of seeing mostly naked women in public has all but worn off.

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Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: Not A Spectacle, But Not a Motivator, Either

by columnist Madeline Karp

About this time last year, I attended a NEMA conference session entitled “Spectacle or Motivator? Violent Content in Exhibitions.” Amy Weisser, Director of Exhibit Development at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum, spent a good deal of time talking about how she managed to look at violent or upsetting content day  in and day out.  I specifically remember her saying she hoped to honor the collections pieces and narrate a compelling story, rather than make a specific political or opinion statement about 9/11.

This week, to mark the  anniversary of 9/11, NBC News’ PhotoBlog gave us a sneak peek of what the museum will look like, and of some of the artifacts on display.

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Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: Special Edition – Why I Don’t Hate James Durston

by columnist Madeline Karp

You may have read this week that CNN Travel’s senior producer James Durston hates museums.

If, like me, you work in a museum, Durston’s opinion piece may have really grilled your cheese. I’ll be the first to admit, I had steam coming out of my ears. But before you sharpen your pitchforks and light up the torches to chase him out of town, I encourage you to stop, take a breath, and consider this:

Durston’s article is the Miley Cyrus VMA performance of museum criticism – it is so over the top and so clearly baiting us to react that it deserves to be met with the most minimal reaction possible.

So rather than a ranting response, I suggest we take a calm and critical look at Durston’s complaints. Let’s start a conversation about how we can fix the legitimate problems he brings up, and clear up the misconceptions he’s trying to perpetuate. Continue reading

Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: Change is Gonna Come

by columnist Madeline Karp

My family and I saw Lee Daniel’s The Butler last weekend. It sparked a family conversation about change over time. The main question: Can individuals – and then, by association, institutions – change? And what does it really take to implement that change?

We all had differing opinions.

People can change, my sister posited. Given enough evidence, smart people almost always will change their opinions to support the “right” side of things.

People change superficially, my parents submitted. One can intellectually change a position, but emotions are deep-seated, and the way one really feels about things – deep down on the inside – is usually pretty unwavering.

I think I was perhaps the most radical. Continue reading

Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: Exhibit Review – SPY: The Secret World of Espionage

by columnist Madeline Karp

I have never had the desire to design exhibits, write labels or work in conservation. When it comes to museums, I am Team Education, Outreach and Interpretation through and through.

But I still want exhibits to be well executed. It makes my job easier as an educator if I have good material to work with; it makes my time as a visitor more enjoyable if I can follow an exhibit’s narrative thread.

spy-franklin-institute- Continue reading

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