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