Category Archives: memory

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.

kmcaleer

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.

(MVillegas)

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.

(ventimit)

Time, Space and Museums

I was reading Reach Advisor’s article, “Is Art Really Asynchonous? What About Museums?” and examining Seth Godwin’s graphic which analyzes high and low bandwidth media against asynchonous and syncronized activities. In thinking more on this I realized  that part of me likes the fact that most exhibitions in museums are stable and fixed in design yet also temporary. Exhibitions that I experienced years ago become part of whom I am in the same way that reading a classic or traveling constructs who I am as an individual. Considering that many exhibitions that impacted me the most  are temporary (such as Sensation), does that experience become an isolated perhaps sacred set of moments? Because that exhibition experience can never be repeated  is it more valuable?

(Heather CS)