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Keynote Panel

Posted By Sarah Schultz, Curatorial Assistant, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Keynote Panel
Looking Forward Ten Years: What is the Museum of 2021?

Sarah Schultz, Curatorial Assistant for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

After the Keynote Panel: Looking Forward Ten Years: What is the Museum of 2021 on Monday morning, I felt that each speaker on the panel could have their own catchphrase to encapsulate his/her main point.  For Paola Antonelli who described early-on how she came to understand the donor-curator relationship, it’d be: "curators are like geishas, well-trained in ancient instruments yet dependent on institutions and donors” in essence, we are well-kept.  For Linda Shearer, her catchphrase would explore how museums can go beyond collection management and reach out to local communities in a tangible way.  For Kwame Anthony Appiah, it’d be: "access over ownership,” for his call for increased access to collections, encouraging curatorial collaboration internationally over individual ownership.

While Antonelli spoke about the curator’s role within a collecting institution, Linda Shearer showed how a curator can function without an institution.  After working as a curator in a number of major museums in New York, Shearer is now the Executive Director of Project Row Houses, a non-profit that "melds economics, aesthetics and restorative architecture.” Artist and community activist Rick Lowe founded Project Row Houses as an artist’s residency program in the fourth ward of Houston, an historic neighborhood that was at risk of being demolished by the city.  As a Houston native, I was inspired by Shearer’s tenacity to help make Project Row Houses a reality and preserve the existing community. 

Kwame Anthony Appiah predicted that new technology will affect the museum of 2021.  Technology will be the primary means of museum collections and inversely, museums accessing audiences. Technologies’ global presence allows for vast art collections, when available online, to reach wider and more diverse audiences than ever before. 

Throughout the rest of the conference, I often returned to main ideas I heard during this inspiring keynote panel.  Indeed, all three panelists lived up to their celebrity.

Tags:  keynote 

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