For this second part of my series of posts exploring the above question, I want to focus more on the ability of a museum to be relevant in its subject matter, and participatory in its delivery of content.
One of my great inspirations when it comes to museum exhibitconceptualization and design is Nina Simon. I’ve read Nina’s book The Participatory Museum, and I’ve seen her speak very eloquently on the subject of involving audiences in both creating and critiquing museum content.The book is available to read online by clicking the image below:
I should start by saying that my own definition of curatorial excellence has varied over time. I used to think that museums, in particular historical museums, are all about the variety and quality of objects displayed. I now think that this is only part of the answer, and certainly not an essential piece of a great and really interesting exhibition.
This past week has been an eventful one at the Loyola Chapel.
Last Tuesday, we had a team meeting with all of the Chapel Staff and many of our colleagues from Multi-Faith Chaplaincy and the Dean of Students’ Office. With all of our busy schedules, it’s been difficult to get together in such a way before now, and I think that the result was fantastic. It was a great opportunity to not only describe and explain our different Chapel Development initiatives, but also to get some valuable feedback from our peers. I’ve always found it amazing how, even when we think that we’re being innovative and creative with our projects, how beneficial and inspiring it is to hear other people’s perspectives and suggestions on how the project can be even better. I feel such gratitude to my friends and co-workers for taking the time to offer their advice and enthusiasm, and I know that with your help the Loyola Chapel Exhibition will be wonderful!
Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.
- First Nations Proverb
I’m currently the Curatorial Assistant at the Loyola Chapel Development Project, located in the Montreal neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce at Concordia University’s Loyola Campus. This space has a long tradition as a Roman Catholic parish in the West End of Montreal, and lies in a part of town that is in many ways planned around the campus of the old Loyola College. I came to this project with very little knowledge of the Chapel, other than that it was a Roman Catholic place of worship and that my partner’s parents had been married there in the mid-1980s. Since I’m not Catholic I hadn’t ever thought to enter the space, and I found myself aware of the Chapel only as a peripheral object as I wandered around the Loyola Campus to go to class, use the library, and catch the inter-campus shuttle.