Category Archives: 1

Museum Futures Symposium Online

Well its been a while (a month) since the semester’s end. After a much needed break we finally have the video of the symposium up on the Cooper-Hewitt’s YouTube ChannelEnjoy!

0:00 – 3:52   Welcome & Acknowledgments

3:53 – 17:42 Introduction to Museum Futures by Tim Ventimiglia

17:43 – 27:10 Proposal for the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum by Jenny Florence & Maria Antonia Villegas

27:15 -37:15 Proposal for the Lower East Side Tenement Museum by Clarisa Llaneza, Kate McAleer & Edith Whitsitt

37:22 – 47:37 Proposal for National Museum of the American Indian by Philip Kwok, Kendall Tynes & Jill Vance

47:42 – 56:10 Proposal for the New York Hall of Science by Stephen Kaye & Ryan Massey

56:30 – 1:03 Proposal for the American Museum of Natural History by Miranda Elston & Emily Kramer

1:04:06 – 1:16:40  Proposal for the Museum of Modern Art by Lara Huchteman, Kelly Lo & Eri Yamagata

1:16:44 – 1:52:31  Panelists and Students Discussion with Allegra Burnette, Eric Siegel, David Harvey, Tim Ventimiglia, Lindsay Stamm Shapiro and Sarah E. Lawrence

Photos from Dec 14th Museum Design Lab Symposium

Photos of the symposium by Philip Kwok.

Museum Futures Symposium

This end of semester event will feature the research and speculative proposals of the students of the Fall 2009 Museum Design Lab at the Parsons School of Design’s School of the Constructed Environment.

The evening will begin with an overview of some key trends in museums and a series of short presentations by six student teams who will each talk about their work with a partner museum. The teams represent a mixture of students in programs of architecture, interior and lighting design and the history of decorative arts and design. Their work includes an analysis of their museum partner’s unique assets and speculative proposals for dealing with a range of challenges that the museum will likely face in the next 25 years. A panel discussion in response to the work and other questions will be moderated by Tim Ventimiglia.

Panelists representing the Museum Lab’s museum partners include:

Allegra Burnette, Creative Director, Digital Media, Museum of Modern Art
David Favaloro, Director of Curatorial Affairs, Lower East Side Tenement Museum
David Harvey, Senior Vice President for Exhibitions, American Museum of Natural History
Dr. Sarah E. Lawrence, Director MA Program in History of Decorative Arts & Design, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum
Eric Siegel, Director and Chief Content Officer, New York Hall of Science
Lindsay Stamm Shapiro, Exhibition Manager, Smithsonian Institution Museum of the American Indian

Seating is limited so RSVP to:
A confirmation of your reservation will be sent to you before the event.

Tim Ventimiglia

Identity Museum – MOCA

The Museum of Chinese in America

The Museum of Chinese in America

I recently visited the newly re-opened MOCA–Museum of Chinese in America.  Drawn partially, I’ll admit, by the museum’s architect, Maya Lin, I was also interested in seeing what, if any new design ideas on how to present this history–“Chinese in America”–an example of these unique groups building museums to tell specific cultural identity stories.  Firstly, I find the title of this museum interesting–“Museum of Chinese in America,”  not “Museum of the History of Chinese Americans” or “Museum of American Chinese,” but “Museum of Chinese in America.”  The words “Chinese in America” suggest to me a purposeful separation of “Chinese” and “America” and does not imply overlap or inclusion.  Perhaps that is part of the point, that for most of the history of Chinese immigrating to the U.S. our culture separated and labeled them as “Chinese” and not “American.” I thought that this was particularly relevant to our class conversation about the growing presence of such group and identity-specific museums.  I have to question, who is the audience?  Throughout my visit I felt as though the museum made no effort to connect this “Chinese” experience in America to any other immigrant group (other than a brief commentary on the Japanese interment during WWII).  If museums keep telling these specific stories and do not connect them out to a larger point or group, aren’t they missing part of the point of the very history they are trying to present?  Regardless, some of the objects on display in the museum, e.g. a candy box for “Fu Manchus” or a copy of “The Good Earth,” were great tools that could speak about racism without use of many words.  I wish the current section, instead of having a wall of famous Asian Americans–Maya Lin, Yo Yo Ma, Ang Lee, they might have discussed current immigration or racial issues because this story is still ongoing–just because we have museums that discuss these issues historically, does not mean they are not still alive and relevant today.


Periods and Boundaries

Period Room

Period Room at the Metropolitan Museum

The Period Rooms at the Met have always captivated me. The period room genre is essentially that of a full-scale architectural time capsule. But these rooms also trigger a visceral sense that you could just step in and sit down to a soon-to-be-served dinner. I have seen other period rooms in other museums, in other countries even, but the Met’s have always seemed to me so exacting in their detail and theatricality and represent a total commitment to preservation of an interior space. Silently, and almost without text, they tell of another way of life that is forever lost in time. The lighting effects at the windows suggest that this life continues outside and just beyond our grasp.

I was back at the Met recently and discovered that in place of the old labels they have added a layer of interpretive programs on large LCDs mounted to the rail. There is something cynical and perhaps a bit sinister in this. While I do think the media programs executed by Small Design are thoughtfully designed, with smooth interfaces and are incredibly helpful in understanding the contents of the room, I am at the same time stuck by the decision to use this technology in this particular context. If there is any place left in the world that you would expect to escape the glow of the now ubiquitous flatscreen it would be here in the Met’s Period Rooms. The monitor stands in such contrast to the contents of room so perhaps the museum felt that the boundary remains clear. But then again it is the tenuous nature of the old flimsy rail and its archaic labels that makes the boundary so tempting to leap over.