Author Archives: massm833

Objects as Characters

Before taking this class, I always thought exhibitions were based around objects and never thought of the larger story they were used to tell.  Once Tim mentioned that exhibitions always started out as stories and that objects were just one means of telling it, I began to view exhibitions in a different light. I became more critical of the importance and inclusion of certain objects.  Why was this vase included, and not a different one?… What role did it play in the narrative?… What was it trying to tell me?…  All these questions constantly circle in my mind and honestly, have made my exhibition viewing process much more enjoyable. On that note, I stumbled on a review of the new permanent exhibition at the Museum of the American Indian in NYC called “Infinity of Nations“. The review stresses the same idea of objects as characters in an exhibition. I recommend reading it, it’s very interesting to see how much larger and lively issues are addressed through the use of inanimate things.

Ryan Massey

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Simplicity is Key

After Monday’s lecture on technology within the museum, I saw this on a walk and it made me stop and think about the simplicity I seek within museum walls.  Everyday I walk (as I know everyone else in the class does too) past the light store- Filaments.  The store, located near Parson’s on 13th Street, is filled to capacity with light bulbs, stands, and shades. I know this is a stretch, but every time I walk past the store, I always think of the Hall of Biodiversity located in the American Museum of Natural History.  The Hall of Biodiversity is laid out in a similar manner, it is crowded, colorful, and completely attention-grabbing.  There is a very small presence of technology, making the visitor rely almost solely on the presentation of the plants and animals.

If I said I adored this area of the museum, it would be an understatement.  Every visit I am pleasantly overwhelmed by the information and models presented, and I always learn something new.  I really appreciate the simplicity of this Hall, and I find it refreshing that I find myself thinking of the museum when I see things as simple as a store front.

This is something museums must strive for-  a seamless transition between spaces.  Museum learning cannot stop once a visitor leaves the confines of the institution.  I applaud the Hall for it’s simplicity.  If it was only technological displays, instead of the appropriate combination that it does have, I doubt it would make as strong as impact on its viewers.

Ryan Massey

Brooklyn Gets Participatory

Last night in the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn, the first ever Nuit Blanche “White Night” was held in New York City. This festival of lights, which has been held in areas around the world such as Atlanta, GA and Paris, France, allows artists and designers to display their light creations on sides of buildings, in warehouses, and throughout sidewalks, playgrounds, and street corners.  The festival combined artistic expression with technological outputs and showed the potential creativity that could be reached with the blending of the two.

The most interesting (and relevant to our class) option they had at the event was a participatory project.  Visitors to the celebration could download an application, similar to most museum styles we see today, and create their own designs that would then be projected onto the buildings.  It was a great way to allow the visitor to feel creative, important, and instrumental in the success of Nuit Blanche.  The picture below shows the steps required for participation.  It was a great event, and an even better way to get people involved in both art and the community!

Ryan Massey

Guggenheim ‘Labs’

I recently found this article about the Guggenheim’s attempts to reach a wider, more diverse audience and I felt it really speaks to the discussions we have been having about museum transparency and community interaction.

YouTube- one of the most visited sites on the Web has joined forces with the Museum to allow participants a chance to be included in an exhibition… “It’s all motivated by the same thing, to make what is on the walls here more compelling,” said Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

The initiative is such a great way to not only reach out to communities, but act as a dialogue-starter to spark change. It’s very refreshing to see an institution as highly regarded and world-renowned as the Guggenheim taking a stance on urban living complications and joining forces with its “audience” to solve the problem.

In regards to the wide-reaching possibilities this represents, imagine if other museums began taking part in Web-based dialogue…  The Brooklyn Museum and others have lead the way in participatory conversation, and their efforts have allowed their collections to be accessed and (most importantly) enjoyed by a much larger audience.  If other museums took the leap and began interacting with their visitors, the exchange of information between visitor and institution would be so rich and culturally important.  Museums would loose the often pompous and stuffy connotations and become true transparent institutions.

Ryan Massey

Technology and the Human Hand

It seems that as this class looks into the museum of the future, we get more and more skeptical of the human aspect- will the human have a place in the museum, and if so, where will it be?  As Stephen and I were researching the future of the science museum he came across this interesting video that emphasizes the importance of human/technology relationships. In the future, museums, especially STEM museums- those that specialize in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics will rely on the human presence to explain important concepts to the viewers.  These museums will not only be areas of learning, but real forums to solve global problems.

The video is very inspiring, I think it gives a good idea of how the human, instead of disappearing behind the technology’s presence, will become an even more valuable asset to the museum structure.

ryanmassey, stephenkaye

Reproduction of the “Masterpiece”

After reading the article “The Museum of the Future” by Walt Lippmann, I was curious and interested in his concept of reproducing artwork.  He considered museums as a sanctuary for artwork and stressed that in today’s museum setting, most of these pieces will never leave their “home”. Because museum collections are leaning towards the permanent, viewers have little chance to see certain items if they don’t travel. Traveling to view art, in some eyes, is not always a priority and therefore, certain masterpieces will never be experienced by this audience. “Yet the supply of masterpieces of art and unique objects of great value is limited, whereas all over the world, in every nation and in every city there is a rising demand by greater and greater masses of people for access to these masterpieces and unique objects.”This begs a serious question: should art be reproduced?

In the future, museums must discover ways to reach both local and national visitors, and reproducing art, I think is one way to help fix the problem. I am not saying however, that the reproduction artwork should be viewed as the original, nor should it be referenced as a primary source. Reproduction artwork should used similar to a library as Lippmann suggests, to implement its original self- it should be inspiration to view the source, in this case, the masterpiece.  Suggesting that famous paintings be copied does seem to take away from it’s splendor and glory, and this notion of copying should be approached with caution. If though the copies  provide a way for others, unable to see the original, to connect with the artwork, would it not be considered a success?

I want to open this post to everyone’s opinions, I am really curious to see how the group feels about the importance of the “one of a kind” verses the readily available. Would the notion of reproduction lead to the downfall of the museum? Would it take away certain museums’ appeals, or, could it provide a means of further research and study?

(ryanmassey)

Woodstock at Forty

Woodstock Poster

The Newseum, a museum designed with the guidance of RAA, is currently holding an exhibition entirely dedicated to the relationship of music and media. “Woodstock at 40” traces the rise of photojournalism through a music festival in upstate New York. This exhibition, unlike the rest of the Newseum is almost entirely void of technological interactions. The exhibits rely solely on interviews from now famous journalist who attended the festival, a collaboration of photographs documenting the weekend, and music memorabilia such as tickets and album covers. “Woodstock at 40” is set up more like a living documentary than its high-tech counterparts which make up the rest of Newseum. The video interviews with Woodstock attendees seem to be the most technologically advanced aspect of the exhibition. Because of the overall simplicity of the gallery design, I assume that the budget was not particularly large for this display.

It would be interesting to see how Woodstock, one of the most controversial events of its time, could be shown through technological interactions such as a computer generated map of the festival grounds, a way to place the museum visitor at the site, and other means to experience  interesting aspects of the Festival such as musicians, instruments, and drug use.

(ryanm)