Monthly Archives: September 2009

Museum as Hub

The Museum as Hub is a collaborative initiative based on a network of five international art museums, including New York’s New Museum. It’s a new approach to curation, as well as an open space for exhibitions, events, special programs, community discussions, screenings, etc. During the first year of the project, the museums worked with the theme  “neighborhood”, distinguishing what this meant to the people of the city in which each museum is located.

I like this as an example of a real social network that takes on big issues, one that is maybe more powerful and vital than the virtual networks we’re all part of.  I see it also as a good example of something that can be started by a museum or gallery that relies on good old sharing, discussion, and face-to-face interaction (as well as online interaction between the collaborators) to generate an experience.

New Museum’s Museum as Hub is hosting a symposium on October 21st to consider the initative itself.  This should be a good look at a museum’s exercise in self-evaluation and a peek into how this project will progress in the future, not to mention an interesting afternoon of discussion. And it’s inexpensive ($8 for students)!


Kandinsky at Guggenheim

Museums are the places where the audience experiences the aura of the artwork, and more like a whole atmosphere at the museum talks about the artwork the space contains.

Today I visited Guggenheim to see Kandinsky‘s life work exhibition. His oil paintings are arranged in a chronological order of earlier at the bottom and later at the top. The visitors are told to go to the top first and follow the path to go down, and experience Kandinsky’s work in backward of chronological order, like a rewind of his life.

My favorite part of this exhibition was, because Kandinsky’s work was part of Guggenheim’s permanent collection, and all his artwork somehow reflect the characteristics of Guggenheim Museum. His works’ geometrical shapes reflect Guggenheim’s windows and its structures, his works’ fluidity reflect the museum’s spatial flow of one big circulation and how other circulations follow. I believe this harmony worked because of the open space of the museum where I always could see the painting, the audience, and the space. I somehow felt this exhibition gives people the uniqueness and personality of Guggenheim Museum, and I felt it is quite important for museums to give more engagement with audience through exhibition.


Learning while Enjoying

"Parque Explora", an interactive experience that teaches you while you amuse

"Parque Explora", an interactive experience that teaches you while you amuse

I would like to share with you my experience in “Parque Explora”, a very innovative interactive park in Medellin, Colombia. Its main objective is to disseminate and promote science and technology in the population of the city and its visitors. It gives them the opportunity to experiment, learn while they are enjoying, and build some knowledge that can help developing social welfare and dignity. It has more than 300 interactive experiences outdoor and indoor, spaces for experimentation and exhibition places.

One of the places I enjoyed the best when I went there was the open hall. An incredible place outdoors fulfilled with interactive experiences to learn about physics while you play. I remember my physics’ lessons in high school and how boring they were, but this place makes of physics an entertaining experience. You can experiment the physics’ laws on your own while you are spinning around on a circular platform and controlling its speed depending on how close your chest is to the center of it. You can also experience the laws of gravity, inertia, parabolic movement, eccentric movement, etc. You learn tons of stuff that is usually boring while you are amusing yourself.

Another amazing space in the park is the digital territory. Here you can learn everything about new technologies while you create with music, images and movement.  You make your own animations, you broadcast the weather on a TV station, you analyze your own body temperature with infrared cameras, and you compose your own songs. It’s is magical.

“Parque Explora” makes of learning the most fun, amusing, unforgettable experience.


Museum Without Walls (reprise)

In response to the earlier post of the same title, and deserving more than a brief comment…

I am really glad you mentioned Andre Malraux. Long before he wrote “The Museum Without Walls” in 1965,  19th century novelist Gustave Flaubert’s Bouvard & Pécuchet, a fictional pair of ambitious although amatuer librarians, checked out of their weary professional life as clerks and attempt to catalog the knowledge of world. Aby Warburg and his Mnemosyne Atlas project in the 1920s is another notable example of such an effort although Warburg actually did amass a vast collection of art historical images to represent the all of humanity’s essential symbolic and visual leitmotifs. Spanning the late 20s-late 30s Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project is essentially a catalog of his own urban observations,  fragments of experience that he recorded with the zeal of a librarian on a vast archive of hand-written index cards. It represents the essence of a real city in a specific time and place, in the form of a hyplinked index which is now searchable thanks to the Harvard University Press. In 1948 Walter Lippmann visited the National Gallery of Art and surmised that inevitably there will be a bifurcation of the “physical sanctuary” for real objects and a parallel network of “representations and editions” that are more widely distributed and available to study.

“One can imagine, I venture to think, that the museum of the future will have two departments–one the sanctuary where the unique objects, the irreplaceable relics, are preserved and exhibited for the veneration and the enjoyment of those who make the pilgrimage; the other department in effect a library for the student, the scholar, and the amateur, where they can find, as in any library, collected in one place and readily accessible to them various editions of the unique objects which are scattered in the sanctuaries all over the world.”

In the late 90s the Smithsonian Institution launched its own “Museum Without Walls” and now has a well-established initiative called Smithsonian 2.0. More recently the Brooklyn Museum has made its entire digital catalog available by publishing its collections API. This allows developers to create a wide range of web and iPhone applications that interface with it. These ideas made more viable with the advent of the internet will inevitably transform the museum from the inside out and the ways in which the public experience a museum’s content.

All of these efforts question the status of iconic architecture, the ‘aura’ of the artifact, the role of the curator and the essential sense of place and context that define so many physical museums. I imagine however that there are also models where the two are seamlessly integrated and reinforcing one another. This is a deep topic and we will be exploring it in the weeks. Please continue this line of investigation into precedents and possible futures.


40 Years of Igniting Curiosity

The Ontario Science Centre has flourished over the last 10 years by restoring the Greater Toronto Area’s curiosity in science. This museum is a great marker to understand the potential that these Science Museums have on visitors and the community.

There are many ingenious solutions that can increase admission, promote school field trips, and capture or recapture different generations of visitors. The Ontario Science Centre has developed their IMAX Theater to create and enhance the experience of how knowledge in learned through captivating documentaries. This dome shaped theater changes the experience of watching a film by overwhelming the visitors senses of movement and sound.

The Sleepover Program takes the movie “Night at the Museum” to the next step and makes it a reality. Visitors are able to spend the night among the exhibits and reinvestigate them after sundown, and once again before the museum reopens to the public. This re-evaluates how a simple solution has a enormous impact of the people that get to enjoy the exhibits.

They truly due have fun down to a science!

(Steven Kayes)

LentSpace, a temporary museum?

LentSpace at Varick St and Canal Street

LentSpace at Varick St and Canal Street

Abutting the entrance for the uptown 1, Canal Street train, currently sits an outdoor exhibition of art.  Surrounded by a chain link fence that suggests a construction site, this large, open space has become an exhibition/public park.  The works and space constantly play with the surroundings and questions boundaries and art.

The NYTimes recently blogged about the occurrence of vandalism on one of the pieces currently exhibited.   see the blog here .  Someone gratified “This is not art” on Pompey’s Folly by Ryan Taber.

The graffiti has now been removed from the piece, but a feint black cloud of where the big letters appeared stands in their place.  If this work had been exhibited in a museum, one with walls and security guards, this offensive graffiti could have never occurred, yet in this outdoor setting it did.  This raises questions about society’s notions of art and its assumptions and understandings of it.  This is an explicitly outdoor, public art event and space–temporary museum if you will–do the same rules of museums and behavior apply?  Is art only art when its in a “museum?”  Should the graffiti have stayed on the piece?


Museum Without Walls

In 1965 Andre Malraux wrote a book, The Museum without Walls. Malraux idea was centered around the thought that one could photograph art and place it in his book, thus creating a museum without walls. The idea that one can compile a book of photographs, to serve the same purpose of museum visits. 

Today, we do the same process with the internet and digitizing art work from around the world that we have at our finger-tips through the internet.  But how does this effect the museum as an institution and art as a whole?Almost every art history student has experienced this through the common slide lectures, at the same time how else can one seeing that much art in a set location. Douglas Crimp also brings up these issues, when he states “In the process they have lost their properties as objects” (Crimp, On the Museum’s Ruins, p. 55). 

Bringing these issues back, if people truly feel that they can get everything from the internet, as museums are uploading their collections, what will happen to the museum?