Brown Bags

These Images Are Similar, but Are Not the Same: Digitization and Colonial Archives

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Presented by Ricky Punzalan, PhD Candidate, Information and Museum Studies

This presentation examines the dispersal of colonial photographs in several heritage institutions in the U.S. as they embrace digitized and online access. The photographs were taken during ethnological surveys of indigenous populations of the Philippines in the early 1900s to understand their habitat, life-ways, natural resource use, and the impact of the American pacification attempts to "civilize" and "educate."

The presentation is largely inspired by the following questions: How do institutions grapple with issues of duplication, selection and originality? How are notions of authenticity settled or negotiated among institutions that specialize in representing unique and rare artifacts? What does the "virtual reunification" of disparate collections achieve for both users of image, the institutions that keep them, and the indigenous groups who were the subjects of these images?

Eliciting Visitor Feedback for Exhibit and Program Development and Assessment

Friday, October 15, 2010

Presented by Clara Cahill, PhD, Education

Evaluation plays a vital role in the development and implementation of programs and exhibits at the Franklin Institute Science Museum. Evaluators, prototypers, and exhibit and program designers use a variety of techniques to elicit visitor feedback on concepts, interactive designs, the effectiveness and interest of various exhibit features, graphic design, and overall impressions of exhibitions and programs. Iterative evaluation allows for visitor feedback to continuously inform the development process from beginning to end. In this presentation, I describe a variety of methods of evaluation used by the Franklin Institute and other museums, and reflect on how visitor feedback can be used to improve exhibits and programs.

About Clara Cahill

Clara Cahill is a doctoral candidate in Science Education at the University of Michigan, and has fulfilled the requirements for the Certificate in Museum Studies. She has been a field instructor for secondary science teacher candidates, a high school science teacher, and a nature center coordinator. Cahill’s dissertation focuses on bridging content and inquiry across museum and classroom settings.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ Chief Calvin McGhee Museum and Welcome Center: Building a New Museum

Friday, November 5, 2010

Presented by Kelly Fayard, PhD , Anthropology

In this presentation, Kelly Fayard will discuss her internship in the newly built and not-quite-open Calvin McGhee Museum and Welcome Center located on the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ Reservation near Atmore, Alabama. She will discuss the challenges of choosing an exhibit design firm for the museum as well as the development of specific exhibits. She will also examine the types of activities that the museum presents to make itself truly a community museum and centerpiece of Creek culture on the reservation.

In the Beginning . . . . Reflections on a Visit to Northern Kentucky’s Creation Museum

Friday, December 3, 2010

Presented by Raymond Silverman, Director, Museum Studies Program; Professor History of Art and Afroamerican & African Studies and Bradley L. Taylor, Associate Director of the Museum Studies Program at the University of Michigan.

In 2007 the Creation Museum opened in suburban Cincinnati. The 70,000 square foot museum tells the biblical story of Genesis in a $27 million facility that has drawn record audience numbers since its opening while generating controversy within the museum community. Critics have challenged the museum’s faith-based “scientific” conclusions, the predilection to proselytize as opposed to educate, and whether, in fact, the organization is a legitimate museum or merely an extension of a conservative Christian ministry. Controversies notwithstanding, the museum has proven to be a popular and financial success: in the short time they have been open, the Creation Museum’s attendance figures have surpassed those of all other Cincinnati museums combined.

This presentation, based on a visit to the museum in July 2010, will consider the structure of the narrative presented by the museum as well as the strategies used to interpret the story of Genesis.

About Raymond Silverman

In 2002, Raymond Silverman joined the faculty at the University of Michigan where he is Professor of History of Art and Afroamerican & African Studies, and serves as Director of the Museum Studies Program. In addition to teaching courses dealing with the visual cultures of Africa and Museum Studies, he has curated a number of exhibitions dealing with various aspects of African visual culture. Silverman’s research and writing has examined the interaction between West Africa and the cultures of the Middle East and Europe, the history of metal technologies in Ethiopia and Ghana, the social values associated with creativity in Ethiopia, the visual culture of religion in 20th-century Ethiopia, and the commodification of art in Ethiopia and Ghana. Among his many writings, Silverman is the author of Ethiopia: Traditions of Creativity (1999) and Painting Ethiopia: The Life and Work of Qes Adamu Tesfaw (2005). Most recently he has been exploring “museum culture” in Africa, specifically how local knowledge is translated in national and community-based cultural institutions.

About Bradley L. Taylor

Bradley L. Taylor is the Associate Director of the Museum Studies Program at the University of Michigan. His degrees include advanced work in both museum studies and information and library studies at the University of Michigan, where his doctoral research received “Dissertation of the Year” recognition from the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE). He has published several articles on the effect of surrogation on the affective response to objects in museum settings. His current research addresses the role of the museum in the society; to this end, he is completing an article on Detroit’s Heidelberg Project and the role of the artist/curator in the community. Taylor teaches in the graduate proseminar for the Museum Studies Program and was recently instrumental in the development of a new undergraduate minor in museum studies at UM.

The Virtual Museum Project: Transcending Barriers, Engaging New Audiences

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Presented by Jennifer Beyer, MA, Education

The Virtual Museum Project at the University of Michigan has produced an innovative model for engaging museum objects and the knowledge associated with them. This intriguing model offers a hybrid experience where virtual media combine with physical artifacts to create a new whole. The model exploits the magic of encountering “real” things while providing visitors with greater control over where, when and how they experience museum collections.

The most recent iteration of the Virtual Museum Project involves collaboration with the University’s science museums, exploring specifically the impact of the model on students and the acquisition of object literacy. By better understanding the nature of physical and virtual encounters with museum artifacts, the Virtual Museum model offers the promise of a new interpretive context for engaging campus collections. This lecture will present the basis and vision for the Virtual Museum model and will review our initial work with museum audiences.

About Jennifer Beyer

Jennifer Beyer is a museum professional with 7 years of experience designing exhibits, creating education programs, and researching museum technologies. She specializes in engaging communities in museum work. Ms. Beyer holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design, a master’s degree in Education, and graduate certification in Museum Studies. She has been involved with the Virtual Museum Project since its inception and has served as Project Researcher for the past academic year.

Goethe’s Der Sammler und die Seinigen: History and the Classicist Collection

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Presented by Michael Andre, PhD Candidate, Germanic Languages and Literature and Museum Studies

I will present work to date on the subject of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 1799 epistolary novella Der Sammler und die Seinigen (The Collector and His Circle), the product of an intense period of theorization and publicity for the arts and aesthetic theory, as well as a project for the amusement of Goethe and his closest collaborators. The text demonstrates considerable confidence in its type-oriented depictions of the artist, the aesthete, and the collector, and in its conclusions regarding the arts, material culture, and the organization of knowledge. But the contexts of the novella seem to undermine its confidence: the challenge archaeology poses to the ideal object of aesthetic theory; and the cultural crisis of the French Revolution and the perceived need to rejuvenate the German art world. I regard Der Sammler und die Seinigen as the projection of a strategic collecting of objects and persons that would hold at bay the transformations occurring in the arts, archaeology, and in the political sphere in order to maintain an idealized moment of interaction between theory and object and among differing opinions.

Museum Space and the Visitor Experience: Balancing Old Architecture with New Exhibition Needs

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Presented by Mei-Chen Pan, PhD, Comparative Literature

The National Taiwan Museum, the oldest museum in Taiwan, recently launched the Taiwan Museum System Project, a building restoration project in which the Taiwan Land Bank, the Taiwan Camphor Factory, and the Railway Administration Office buildings will be transformed into museum spaces. This effort is significant because it simultaneously preserves historical buildings built during the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945) while re-purposing them into modern cultural institutions.

In order to preserve the historical context of these older buildings and to meet the needs of all the stakeholders, the National Taiwan Museum has made several interesting choices about space allocation.In this presentation, I will discuss how the museum is attempting to negotiate a balance between concerns for the historic architecture with concerns over the museal needs of the new cultural institutions, and overall concerns about the visitor experience.

Islamic Art and the Royal Ontario Museum

Friday, January 7, 2011

Presented by Alison Vacca, PhD, Near Eastern Studies

This presentation will focus on my recent internship under the curator of Islamic art at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. While my primary charge was to update the ROM database on Islamic glass, I was also responsible for a research project on Armenian miniatures of the life of Christ, and I participated in a planning committee for an upcoming exhibit on the excavation of Godin, a pre-Islamic site in Iran.

The main goal of this presentation is to expound upon broader museological concerns based on my experiences at the ROM.What are some of the challenges of incorporating religious material into a museum?What precisely is the purview of a curator of Islamic art?Does it even make sense to have “Islamic” galleries?

Down the Rabbit Hole: Reflections on Work at the University of Michigan Museum of Art

Friday, April 8, 2011

Presented by Liz Vandermark, PhD student, Architecture and Museum Studies

In this presentation, my interest is in exploring the museum as a place to make sense of ourselves in relation to other people not like us. Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Alice’sAdventures through the Looking Glass are used as foils to understand how we become participants in the museum by actively making sense of our experiences with unfamiliar objects in the museum’s social context.

I frame my exploration by reflecting on how my work this summer with the University of Michigan Museum of Art was meaningful in three ways:it extended my understanding of how museum place is constructed, it enabled me to explore my own museum practices and it allowed me to imagine and test how visitor experience is scaffolded. In each “story,” I briefly introduce my work experience, present pertinent seminar experiences and reflect on my practicum experience in light of theory. I suggest that these stories, when taken together, illustrate why museums, and in particular university museums, are places where we, visitors and practitioner alike, extend and develop our self-identity in relation to others.

Conferences and Symposia

Reimagining Engagement: Emerging Opportunities for Museums and Audiences

The Participatory Museum: Inspiring, Supporting, and Evaluating Visitor Participation in Cultural Institutions

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Presented by Nina Simon, Exhibition Designer and Author of the Museum 2.0 Blog

In this first lecture of the Reimagining Engagement series, Nina Simon, exhibition designer and author of the Museum 2.0 blog, discusses strategies for incorporating visitor participation into the work and life of the museum.

In 2006, technologist Tim O’Reilly defined Web 2.0 as “software that gets better the more people use it.” Four years later, participatory media and information sources have become ubiquitous online, but most museums, libraries, and cultural institutions maintain traditional perspectives on authorial control and the visitors’ role as consumers, not collaborators. This lecture presents design techniques, international examples, and opportunities for Museum 2.0″”cultural institutions that incorporate user participation into their work.

What does a museum look like that “gets better the more people use it?” This mandate is not limited to the Web, nor can it be satisfied by interactive activities that engage people without allowing them to make meaningful impact on the institution. Participatory institutions don’t just invite visitors to get involved; they offer diverse, legitimate ways for visitors to contribute to creative development, research, and the ongoing improvement of public-facing content. This lecture will address techniques for designing collaborative processes whose outputs are valuable not only to participants but to staff and non-participating visitors as well. We will discuss the unique and specific value that participatory techniques can bring to cultural institutions, as well as the limitations and challenges to established practice.

Co-sponsored by the UM Museum of Art.

Doing Science . . . Anytime, Anyplace: Using Web and Mobile Technologies to Support Nomadic Inquiry between Science Classrooms and Museums

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Presented by Christopher Quintana, Associate Professor, School of Education

In this second lecture of the Reimagining Engagement series, Christopher Quintana, Associate Professor of Education (Learning Technologies) at the University of Michigan, discusses how technology might be used to encourage scientific inquiry in museum contexts.

Current national K-12 science education recommendations envision expanding beyond classroom-based scientific inquiry to include out-of-class contexts, such as science museums, nature parks, etc. Such “nomadic inquiry” can help students incorporate a broader range of information and explore scientific questions, but it can also be challenging for students and teachers alike. Christopher Quintana, Associate Professor at the UM School of Education, shares how he and others are exploring how to support such nomadic inquiry with Zydeco, a scaffolded system for science inquiry that combines iPhone/iPod Touch devices with a web-based component. The Zydeco model uses mobile devices to scaffold nomadic inquiry and a web-based component to coordinate the data and observations students gather “on-the-go,” thus creating a bridge between classroom and museum contexts.

Part of the UM Museum Studies Program’s “Reimagining Engagement” series.

About Christopher Quintana

Christopher Quintana currently serves as Associate Professor of Education (Learning Technologies) at the University of Michigan’s School of Education. A computer science and engineering background stimulated Quintana’s research interest in the adaptation of handheld devices and software interfaces to middle school, high school, and adult learning agendas. He has been awarded four National Science Foundation grants, most recently a three-year grant to develop “Zydeco: A Mobile ‘Nomadic Inquiry’ System to Support and Bridge Science Inquiry between Classroom and Museum Contexts,’ the subject of his talk with the Museum Studies Program.

Museum Exhibitions as the Public Commons

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Presented by Wayne LaBar, Vice President, Exhibitions and Featured Experiences, Liberty Science Center, Jersey City, NJ

In this third lecture of the Reimagining Engagement series, Wayne LaBar, Vice President for Exhibitions and Featured Experiences, Liberty Science Center (Jersey City, NJ), discusses strategies for involving the public in developing exhibitions at the Liberty Science Center.

Four years ago the Liberty Science Center (LSC) embarked upon an ongoing effort to engage the general public in the creation of the exhibition experience. Unlike earlier work done in the field with selected groups and direct facilitated involvement, LSC was interested in applying the open source, personal choice, large group participation movement that had become part of the public’s expected way in which to interact socially on the web and increasingly in other media. LSC started by considering ways in which finished experiences–ones that were out on the exhibition floor–could be added or changed by the public.

The lessons learned from this effort–as well as the continued growth of social media and the public’s engagement in issues of science and technology–caused the LSC to attempt a new approach to engaging the public. The fundamental question was could visitors become involved in the exhibition process from the very beginning using current social media tools? How might this change the exhibition as well as the exhibition process? This has been applied with design and the development of a new exhibition called Cooking. This evening’s presentation will look at the impact of Cooking on the design and development of new exhibitions: concept ownership, opportunities for connections, the management of such projects, privacy, and rights issues have arisen as well. The project continues to be a research as well creative work in progress.

About Wayne LaBar

Wayne LaBar, Vice President of Exhibitions and Featured Experiences at the Liberty Science Center and Principal-in-Charge of LSC Experience Services has twenty four years of experience in museum and science center planning, project management, leadership, exhibition design and development, implementation, exhibition technology and networking. LaBar’s current interests are leading organizations to becoming more impactful to their communities, developing innovative and new exhibition and public programming, experimenting and advancing the museum field with new paradigms that are shaping our society’s means of communicating, and working together.

Enhancing the Magic: Reimagining Storytelling, Personalization, and Engagement at Disney’s Flagship Park

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Christopher L. Beatty, Senior Concept Designer-Director, Walt Disney Imagineering, Glendale, CA

How does Disney improve the guest experience in the most popular land at the number one theme park in the world? This is the question Disney senior leadership presented to the Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Development Team three years ago as we set out to reshape and fortify our theme park franchise.

The team focused on five major questions:

  1. How do we provide more personalized opportunities for our guests to interact with our characters and content? How does technology play a role?
  2. How do we retain our traditional fan base yet evolve to become more relevant to today’s younger audience?
  3. How do we strengthen environmental storytelling and improve guest comfort?
  4. How do we maximize the potential of our core offerings and improve the guest satisfaction and utilization of anchor attractions?
  5. Should we increase capacity in our most visited land and why?

During this lecture we will discuss the design goals and challenges that are associated with reinventing the established Disney theme park brand. It is my hope that the challenges and solutions to the above topics will provide insights that can be utilized throughout the entertainment industry.

About Chris Beatty

Chris Beatty, Senior Concept Designer–Director for WaltDisney Imagineering, is part of the Creative Blue Sky Team, a dedicated groupwho dream up concepts for the attractions, shows and entertainment for theDisney theme parks and resorts. As part of the Blue Sky Team, Chris is involvedin anywhere from 8-10 concepts in development at any given time, working onstory, and creating artwork that will help to convey the team’s ideas and buildtheir stories. Beatty is currently the Creative Director for the Magic Kingdom Fantasyland Expansion at theWalt Disney World Resort. He isresponsible for leading the creative design and implementation, which is thelargest in the park’s history.

MSP 2010 Capstone Presentations

Abracadabra: Michigan and Magic

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • Elizabeth Harmon, PhD, American Culture
  • John Kannenberg, MFA, Art & Design
  • Joanna Steele, PhD, Information

Thoughtful Wandering & Playful Discovery at Leslie Science and Nature Center

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • Megan Banka, MS, Natural Resources and the Environment
  • Reed Esslinger-Payet, MFA, Art & Design
  • Sharon Herbert, Director, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and Professor, Classical Studies
  • Lauren Talalay, Associate Director and Curator, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

In the Eye of the Beholder: Perspectives on Objects from University of Michigan Museums

Monday, April 11, 2011

  • Gina Konstantopoulos, PhD, Near Eastern Studies
  • Katherine Larson, PhD, Interdisciplinary Program in Classical Art and Archaeology
  • Emma Sachs, PhD, Interdisciplinary Program in Classical Art and Archaeology

Fair Lane: Your Community Commons

Monday, April 11, 2011

  • KT Lowe, MSI student, Information and Museum Studies
  • Ashley Miller, PhD, History of Art
  • Issues in Museum Studies 2010-11


Issues in Museum Studies

Cultural Diversity and Chinese Museums

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Presented by Keun Young Kim, PhD, Anthropology

The history of China can be characterized as a continuous unification and division of a number of kingdoms and ethnic groups, with the Han-group at the center. Since the foundation of the PRC government in 1949, China’s border has become concrete and 55 minority ethnic groups and the majority Han-nationality became official Chinese nationals. The responsibility of making the 56 official ethnic groups into a “unified” China has been one of the most important projects in China. In this presentation, I will show that China’s self assertion of “unified multi-national country” (tongyide duominzuguojia) is a very flexibly used rhetoric. I will discuss the status of ethnic museums in China and how cultural diversity is dealt with in museums.

Materiality Matters: Experiencing the Displayed Object

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A presentation by Sandra Dudley, Programme Director for the MA in Interpretation, Representation and Heritage, in the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, in the 2010-11 Issues in Museum Studies lecture series.

What happens when we engage with material things in museums and galleries? What is the nature of our experience of objects? What is the potential impact of such experiences on our state of mind and quality of life? Why does it matter? This lecture addresses sensory and emotional aspects of people’s experience of material objects. It explores what does and might happen when museum visitors are able to engage with objects in multiple, sensual ways. In the process, it investigates the implications for both theories of the material world and museum practice.

Dominant ways of thinking about objects emphasise their potential in the communication of meaning ““ their role, in other words, as representations of something beyond the object itself. Most approaches thus tend to concentrate on the stories of objects and associated people, rather than on the fundamental ways in which people perceive and respond to physical things. In contrast, this lecture argues that instead of regarding as partial or even useless those objects that lack information or context, we should be aware too that the links between physical and emotional experience of an object ““ even an object of which we may know nothing ““ are themselves of potential value.

About Sandra Dudley

Sandra Dudley is Programme Director for the MA in Interpretation, Representation and Heritage, in the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, UK. She is a cultural anthropologist who has worked in museums and in southeast Asia. Her main interest is in human experience of the material world. Recent publications include Materialising Exile (Berghahn 2010) and her edited volume Museum Materialities (Routledge 2010).

Auschwitz in the 21st Century

Monday, October 25, 2010

Piotr Cywiński, Director of Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum

Organized by the Center for Russian and East European Studies, Copernicus Endowment. Sponsored by the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, the Polish Mission, Museum Studies Program, CREES, and Copernicus Endowment.

About Piotr Cywiński

Dr. Cywiński is a graduate of KUL and Marc Bloch University in Strasbourg. He is a leading Catholic intellectual and contributes to several forums that promote interfaith dialogue in addition to serving on the boards of many museums and organizations. He has been the director of the Auschwitz-Birnkenau State Memorial since 2006.

Navigating Jewish Heritage in Poland: From Academia to Public Culture

Monday, December 13, 2010

Presented by Erica Lehrer, PhD, Anthropology and Hannah Smotrich, Associate Professor, School of Art & Design

Anthropologist Erica Lehrer and graphic designer Hannah Smotrich will discuss their collaborative public scholarship project, a new genre called “ConversationMaps.” ConversationMaps are alternative tourist brochures intended to present issues and raise questions around the conflicted arena of Jewish heritage in Poland. Lehrer’s efforts to translate her scholarship on Jewish heritage tourism in Poland for the public realm are brought into dialogue with Smotrich’s innovative approach to graphic design. The presentation will be followed by an interactive workshop focused on how graphics can be used to engage the public in challenging humanities questions.

This event is co-sponsored by the Museum Studies Program, the Center for Russian and East European Studies, and the Institute for the Humanities.

Are Many Heads Better than One? Curating with, not about, African Artists

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Presented by Pam McClusky, Curator of African and Oceanic Art, Seattle Art Museum

Curators often work with representatives from other cultures on research in preparation for exhibitions. In this process, the balance of power and final decision making is usually clearly established. An advisor, informant, or “field assistant” is consulted, but steps away when the final gallery work and interpretation is enacted. This talk will illustrate what happens when a consultant doesn’t fade into the background, but instead takes an active role in curation. Three recent experiences at the Seattle Art Museum form the core of the discussion. The first is a collection formulated by an intern from Kenya. The second is an exchange with a kingdom in Cameroon, and the third involves the decision of a men’s society in Nigeria to reenact a masquerade. Each experience offers lessons in what is required for creative collaborations to thrive or fail.

Private Collecting in the Age of Museums

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Presented by Andrew McClellan, Dean of Academic Affairs for Arts & Sciences and Professor of Art History, Tufts University

Standard museum historiography charts a steady progression from early modern princely art collections to public museums, whose golden age spans the 19th and early 20th centuries. To be sure, public museums are among our most successful institutions. Museums have become a universal sign of civilization and stability, and no self-respecting country or municipality can afford to be without one. But the rise of public collections by no means spelled the end of private collecting; if anything, it contributed to the intensification of the private. As much today as two centuries ago, public and private collections are mutually reinforcing, dialectically related enterprises that give shape and identity to each another. The purpose of this talk will be to highlight tensions between the public and private during the museum age that fueled contrasting display paradigms, institutional types, and modes of engagement.

The 2011 Whitesell Lecture is organized by the Museum Studies Program and sponsored by the Bentley Historical Library and the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

About Andrew McClellan

Andrew McClellan is Dean of Academic Affairs for Arts & Sciences and Professor of Art History at Tufts University, where his research interests include European art of the 17th-19th centuries and the history and theory of museums. The recipient of recent research fellowships from the Clark Art Institute and the J. Paul Getty Trust, McClellan is also the author/editor of The Art Museum from Boullée to Bilbao, Art and Its Publics, and Inventing the Louvre: Art Politic, and the Creation of the Modern Museum in Eighteenth Century Paris.

Mediating Nomadic Inquiry: Using Mobile Tools to Support Student Exploration between Museums and Classrooms

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Presented by Clara Cahill, PhD, Education

Field trips to museums and other out-of-school settings provide rich opportunities for students to engage in scientific inquiry, the set of cognitive strategies and processes that drive new learning in science. In this talk, we examine two pilot tests of Zydeco, a mobile system designed to support middle-school students in their inquiry across museum and classroom settings. Though mobile devices can provide new ways for visitors to engage museums, many individuals express concern about the tendency of these devices to isolate visitors and to generate “heads-down” behavior. We discuss how students behaved and talked during the museum visit, and the implications for the future use and design of mobile programs to support inquiry.

About Clara Cahill

Clara Cahill is a doctoral candidate in Science Education at the University of Michigan, and has fulfilled the requirements for the Certificate in Museum Studies. She has been a field instructor for secondary science teacher candidates, a high school science teacher, and a nature center coordinator. Cahill’s dissertation focuses on bridging content and inquiry across museum and classroom settings.