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RAAMP Coffee Gathering: Participatory Conversation on Reimagining Engagement in Academic Art Museums
On Thursday, July 23, 2020 at 2:00 PM EST CAA’s Cali Buckley spoke with Berit Ness, Assistant Curator of Academic Initiatives, Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, and Celka Straughn, Andrew W. Mellon Director of Academic Programs at the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas.
Berit Ness is the Assistant Curator for Academic Initiatives at the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, where she oversees the museum’s active study room, manages curricular exhibitions, and serves as a specialist for the museum’s permanent collection. She regularly engages with UChicago faculty and students to foster interdisciplinary approaches for using the museum’s collections and exhibitions as a resource for teaching and learning. Berit has co-organized curricular-driven exhibitions such as Down Time: On the Art of Retreat and The History of Perception.
Since joining the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in 2009 Celka Straughn has worked to integrate the museum into the life of the university, and university teaching, learning, research and other activities into the life of the museum. This includes collaborative exhibition projects with faculty and students, such as American Dream, a student-generated exhibition with Dr. Ellen Raimond in conjunction with the 2016 KU Common Book (2017). Her teaching and scholarly work on museums explores collecting practices, museums and markets, colonial and global museum discourses, cross-disciplinary museum learning and engagement, and museum ethics. She regularly teaches courses for KU’s Honors Program, and is affiliate faculty in Museum Studies and German Studies. From 2012-2019 she served on the CAA Museum Committee and contributed to the formation of RAAMP.
The COVID-19 pandemic and greater awakening of museums to the pandemic of structural racism have further pushed museums to rethink how they engage with their communities. For museums embedded within colleges and universities, this has brought a reexamination of the fundamental ways they act as sites for teaching and learning on campus. As educational institutions are pivoting to new curricular models for socially-distanced and remote learning, campus museums also have to envision new ways to support teaching with art. How can academic museums learn from these experiences to strengthen their missions for inclusion and accessibility, meet emerging academic and community needs, and catalyze structural change?
This participatory conversation is designed to bring colleagues together in discussion. The bulk of the session will take place in smaller break-out rooms for participants to individually share and learn from each other. Below are some prompts for generating conversations.
What is the landscape of teaching at your institution this the fall?
How is your museum reimagining engagement with your academic and public audiences?
Are there any pedagogical methods, programs, or projects that felt successful last spring?
What are some strategies you are planning/developing?
What are your persistent challenges and what further resources are needed?
How might this moment inform your future practice?
If you have examples of class sessions, assignments, or other resources that you are willing to share with colleagues, RAAMP can host them. We will also have a shared document for models and ideas as well as questions during the breakout sessions.
Here is our shared Google document for logging responses to these prompts: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VJ9i1N-SfrnkePZOPSvohzwDdumoTB1dmrSBiceGqgM/edit?usp=sharing