Following on from my last post about community engagement, I have to say I haven’t been able to shake my interest in a topic presented by Georgina Valverde in our Museum Practice Seminar.
What role does the museum play in society?
Since my last post, I spent 3 days in Millennium Park working in the family fun tent and gave my first adult tour!
In Millennium Park I found myself frantically handing out the family program brochures, highlighting the free drop-in events and I must have said “Did you know the Ryan Education Center is a free space for you and your family?” about a hundred times. I found myself wondering why was I so passionate about making sure everyone knew about the family programs offered? Upon reflection, I realized that our Museum Seminar talk with Georgina, Hillary and Becky was still bouncing around my head. I walked away from that meeting really wanting to help share the news about the special programs offered by the Education Department.
As Matthew mentioned in a previous post: my favorite place has been deemed the Ryerson and Burnham Library. Naturally I went to the stacks to explore my interest in the topic proposed by Georgina and found many interesting quotes pertaining to community engagement and the museum as a public space.
From my reading I found a variety of different perspectives on community engagement but this quote caught my attention:
“The museum is a place for tactile, emotional, and intellectual contact with people, ideas or objects that have the potential to inspire. It is a place where people can meet and make friendships with others who share similar interests or where they can be a part of something larger and more important than their own individual lives” (Reinventing the Museum 2004:126)
To me this quote speaks to programs like the family fun tent and free drop-in events in the Ryan Education Center. I loved watching families filter into the tent for 3 days. Each group lit up as they learned about the current Lichtenstein inspired art project of the day: comic strips, pastel drawings or 3D artist studios! All I saw were big smiles as the family fun tent served as a place for tactile, emotional and intellectual contact with people, ideas and objects that inspired them. I think that people want to feel connected and a part of a community and this wonderful weeklong event served this purpose for many families. I think my enthusiasm to continue their experience in the Ryan Education Center was a very natural response!
I’ll end by saying that my adult tour was incredibly enjoyable. I worked with Giacometti’s Spoon Woman, Matta’s The Earth is a Man and de Kooning’s Excavation. I have to say I wasn’t sure what to expect with an adult audience and was basically prepared for a lot of uncomfortable strangers. Thankfully, Kate and I had a group of 20 individuals who readily shared their opinions and even half way through many were sharing amongst one another. My favorite moment was when the entire group was shouting out forms they saw in de Kooning’s Excavation as if they were a group of camp kids.
Maybe adults and kids aren’t so different when they are excited about art!