How to Build a Museum

Abstract

Who are museums for? This question drove our research. Originally motivated by a Travel-Learning Course in Spring 2017 to Manchester, London, and Liverpool, this project seeks to explore the narratives, motivations, and cultural implications for museum exhibits. We focused particularly on art museums. Our primary inspiration was the International Museum of Slavery at the Maritime Museum (Liverpool) and the London, Sugar and Slavery exhibit at the Museum of London Docklands (London). While both historical exhibits, we wanted to examine the symbolism and motivations for creating these exhibits as a form of public history and consciousness in Britain, and apply it to an American political climate. We used our research to create an art museum titled “Culinary Routes/Migratory Routes” at the Ross Art Museum from October 25, 2018 to December 13, 2018. Our exhibit was part of the 2018 Sagan National Colloquium, “Arts and Activism,” and focused on the migration/immigration process through the context of food. We performed academic research during the Spring 2018 semester as part of an independent study, in which we studied modern aesthetic theory behind museum layout, accessibility, and narrative structure. We also contacted local galleries and researched art that would fit our theme. We then applied these theories to drafting publicity information, introductions, and captions/curriculum material for our own exhibit over the summer. During the Fall 2018 semester, we prepared tours and presentation materials for our exhibit’s launch to the Delaware and OWU community. This presentation explains our academic research, process of selecting art, and application of theory into practice on OWU’s campus. It also serves as a celebration of liberal arts principles, as our project was a collaborative effort between Dr. Nancy Comorau (English Literature), Anna L. Davies ’19 (English major), and Erin Fletcher (Director of the Ross Art Museum)

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