Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

Category: Tufts Program (page 1 of 10)

Special Tour Opportunity at the Tufts Art Gallery

Join a special tour at Tufts’ Art Gallery Thursday, April 14th, 5 – 6:30, related to interpreting violent histories. The current exhibition includes artwork by Marcelo Brodsky and Jorge Tacla addressing the legacy of violence in Argentina and Chile, in particular, and the tour will also include commentary by the Gallery’s Liz Cantor and Noe Montez, in Tufts’ Theater program. Dr. Montez’s new work is focused on survivor-tour guides at former torture sites in Argentina. He is exploring how traumatic history is performed for visitors, and he and Liz have devised a way to weave those issues into the exhibition tour.

If you’re interested, please send an RSVP to bridget.conley@tufts.edu

The Art of Schmoozing Workshop Review

Last week, a number of current and former Museum Studies students took part in a workshop put on by the Museum Studies Department and led by Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, President and CEO of the Abbe Museum. “The Art of Schmoozing” discussed networking beyond trying to get a job or making a conference more bearable. Networking helps you talk to potential (and current) donors, volunteers, and community members. Knowing how to speak intelligently and politely is important both professionally and personally (picture sitting at a dinner party and not knowing how to talk to the people around you).

Museum Studies Alum Jennifer Clifford practicing her networking with Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko. (Photo Courtesy of Cynthia Robinson)

Museum Studies Alum Jennifer Clifford (middle) practicing her networking with Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko (right). (Photo Courtesy of Cynthia Robinson)

While many of us panic at the sight of a crowded conference happy hour, and the prospect of talking to billionaires (should we be so lucky) can evoke anxiety, there are several small tricks that can help ease the nerves. Cinnamon imparted some of her own first-hand experiences with some of the following tips:

  • Always introduce someone new to the whole group. It seems straightforward, but often someone joins a group conversation in the middle of a conversation. Rarely do people stop in the middle to say, “Oh by the way, this is my friend Colleen…” before continuing on. It’s awkward to halt the conversation, but it’s also awkward to be chatting with an unknown, unnamed stranger.
  • To get out of a conversation, either make something up (“Oh you’ll have to excuse me, I need to check on the caterer”) or be straightforward but put the onus on you (“I’m sure there are lots of people you’d like to talk to tonight. I’m sorry for monopolizing your time. It was great to meet you. Thank you!”)
  • To break into a group conversation, you can watch body language and wait for an opening (as long as you’re not lurking!), or you can interrupt very briefly and say, “I’m so sorry for interrupting, I just wanted to introduce myself and tell you that I loved your talk at NEMA. Would it be alright if I follow up with you later? I have some questions I’d like to ask you.” With any luck, you’ll get that person’s card and you can email them later.

Cinnamon’s presentation was frank and funny, and included tips on knowing how to work with people with different personality types (check out DiSC if you’re interested). Afterwards, participants were able to practice their new skills over wine and snacks.

Keep your eye out here and in the Museum Studies newsletter for further fun workshops!

Rapid Response Collecting: Not All Objects are Created Equal

Today we bring you an article by Erica Colwell, currently a Tufts student in the Museum Studies certificate program. For Museums Today: Mission and Function, the foundation course required for all Museum Studies students, students research and report on a recent topic regarding museums in the news.

In 2014, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London announced a new collecting strategy: rapid response collecting. This type of collecting involves a team of curators that “scour the streets—in a global sense—for items of interest and get them into the museum as quickly as possible.” The goal is to collect objects that are relevant to the present time, in hopes of creating an exhibition that will be updated regularly.

The curators on the rapid response team are putting a lot of thought into the objects they are bringing into the V&A’s collection. Collecting objects that represent current global culture is no easy task, in part because the scope of the collecting strategy is so broad. Some of the objects the V&A has collected via the rapid response method include the world’s first 3D-printed gun, an electronic cigarette, and Katy Perry false eyelashes.3 An eclectic array of objects, it is not immediately apparent why these items are being considered “museum worthy.” Kieran Long, the Senior Curator of Contemporary Architecture, Design and Digital at the V&A, offers the following argument for her decision to add the Katy Perry false eyelashes to the collection:

This apparently insignificant object unfolds a wide range of histories and worlds, involving several timely issues that link at a stroke the magic of Cleopatra, as played by Elizabeth Taylor in 1963, to what some would consider the darkest excesses of global consumer capitalism, encompassing theatre and performance, gender theory, images of the feminine…

While this is an impressive argument, such an argument could be made for virtually any object, because every object has a history. A curator could pick up a roll of paper towels and explain how our society has moved from the hand-made to the mass-produced, from the essential to the disposable. Not all objects are created equal.

Even though there may be no right or wrong answer to the question “what is art,” some of the objects collected via the rapid response method are more “museum-worthy” than the Katy Perry false eyelashes. The set of Christian Louboutin stilettos in different shades of nude representing the skin colors of women of different races is one such object. The shoes are art in the fashion sense (the shoes are beautiful) and the conversation-sparking sense (racial inequality is a hot-button issue for many in the world today.) The key is to have an argument that will convince visitors that viewing the object is worthwhile. In fact, getting people to talk about why one object is art and another object is not art is one of the best conversations a curator could hope to start amongst their museum’s visitors. The Louboutin set of stilettos is therefore an example of rapid response collecting done right.

While many might rejoice at a museum displaying objects that are truly current, some are wary of collecting objects in this way. I believe rapid response collecting could be a great thing, though it is possible to take it too far. Though museums cannot ignore the art and design being created today if they want to remain relevant, the arguments behind some of the objects being collected via the rapid response method are stronger than others. Since it is often the relevance of an object over time that indicates its value, collecting objects without that passage of time could mean that the choice of objects is based solely on the tastes of those curators doing the collecting.

Tufts Event: Tisch Talks in the Humanities: The Value of Culturally Enriching Field Trips

You do NOT have to be a student (or even a Tufts alum) to attend. Everyone is welcome, just be sure to RSVP to the email at the bottom of the post so that you have a chair waiting for you!

Tisch Talks in the Humanities: The Value of Culturally Enriching Field Trips

Jay P. Greene, A88, Distinguished Professor & Head of the Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas

October 19 | 12 pm

Rabb Room, Tisch College

Tufts Medford Campus

Join Tisch College for a brown-bag lunch discussion with Tufts alumnus Jay Greene, A88, Professor and Head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, and Peter Levine, Tisch College Associate Dean for Research and moderated by Diane O’Donoghue, Tisch College Senior Fellow for the Humanities. Professor Greene will share research on the decline of cultural activities in our schools, what we lose by their disappearance and how providing these culturally enriching experiences will help prepare future citizens for success.

The Initiatives in the Public Humanities at Tisch College sponsors this series of monthly brown bag lunches in 2015-16.  The Tisch Talks in the Humanities seek to identify areas of mutual interest and concern through conversations informed by contemporary civic and cultural practices.

This event is co-sponsored by the Art Education Program, Department of Education, Department of Political Science, Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development, Museum Studies Program, and Tufts University Art Gallery. Please RSVP by emailing Jessica.Byrnes@tufts.edu.

Interpreting Hidden Black Lives: A Conversation with Actress Tammy Denease

On Thursday, October 1, the Royall House & Slave Quarters is having an event at Tufts featuring a living history interpreter. Actress Tammy Denease will be performing a narrative inspired by the life of Belinda Sutton, a woman enslaved by the Royall family who later successfully petitioned the state for a pension after being freed.

Stop by the Crane Room on Tufts’s Medford campus from 6:00-7:00 to listen this important part of history.

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This event is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, Tufts University & The Royall House and Slave Quarters Museum, Medford MA

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