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Learning in Art Museums: Engagement With Art
Maria Mortati
Independent Exhibit Developer
San Francisco, CA | AERA 2013
FORMAL

Interactive Galleries, Contemporary Wing,
Baltimore Museum of Art

Center for Creative Connections,
Dallas Museum ...
INFORMAL

The Great Calculation, Exhibit & Events

The Giant Hand
Machine Project @ The Hammer Museum

The San Francisco M...
Museum experience
Vatican Museum

Museum experience
Open Field at the Walker

Museum experience
Experiments in Engagement
Engagement Platforms at Art Museums
Through the art and artists

With the art or collections

• Civically Engaged
Particip...
Dallas Museum of Art

THE CENTER FOR CREATIVE
CONNECTIONS (C3)
C3 is a 12,000 sq ft
dedicated space for
different types of
participation.
It was about working an
institution’s content i...
Gallery as Lab: we went back to the original statement and
interpreted it as the theme
What they bring to the table: The Framework for Engaging Art
Observers…
Are somewhat comfortable looking at art, have the ...
Irvine Foundation Report

Source: Getting In On the Act, Understanding Participatory Arts Practices
Initial Definitions of Visitor Activity in C3
As we begin to think of how to define a spectrum for activity, we
could cons...
What outcomes do we want to have?
• Engagement with art, it’s ideas and the cultural
community surrounding our visitors an...
Exhibit Planning Outline

1. Select a variety of objects that offer deep engagement
2. Use of an object's inherent entry p...
Object vs. Theme-based
Methodology
An Emerging Spatial Language
A new criteria for selecting objects emerges:
1. Ripe for visitor engagement
•
fosters curiosity
•
depth: potential for ri...
New Contemporary Wing - Interactive Galleries

BALTIMORE MUSEUM OF ART
Interactives & Conceptual Art
This is a place where art museums battle
participation- where there can be an outright
rejec...
Starting with Spatial Evaluation

Two new galleries: one a hallway to an elevator, the other, a small space off the
atrium...
Gallery 1: “Open Studio”
• This gallery became a space that explored the
creative practice of a single artist through a
va...
Sarah Oppenheimer, W-120301, 2012
Sarah Oppenheimer, W-120301, 2012
Sarah Oppenheimer drawings
Research into the artist’s influences
Hands-on prototypes to get at the essence of playing with the grid of a building
Sketchbooks to let visitors try the artist’s approach on, surrounded by other
contextual materials.
Gallery 2: “The Big Table”
• Initially, this gallery was going to be where
visitors could dive deep and engage with the
co...
We began with a work in
the collection that could fit
in the gallery, and have a
visual in it that would
provide a hook fo...
Front-end prototyping and evaluation
Magnet Activity
•Engaged for a few
minutes and went to
other activity
•Used the magnets to
stack, slide, but not
exclusive...
Drawing Activity
• High dwell time
• Worked socially or in
isolation
• Drawings were varied and
arrangements were varied
•...
Drawing Activity, #2

Worked out the
conceptual and
physical issues around
space and perspective,
and allowing visitors to...
Starting Over
Working with a
concept across
contemporary art, vs.
a work of art
Finding local experts
to collaborate with
and realize th...
Baltimore Museum of Art and Post Typography
Pages deep letterform drawings
What do you think the possibilities
are for children, art, and museum
experiences?

THANK YOU.
MARIA@MORTATI.COM
WWW.MORTA...
Learning in Art Museums: Engagement With Art
Learning in Art Museums: Engagement With Art
Learning in Art Museums: Engagement With Art
Learning in Art Museums: Engagement With Art
Learning in Art Museums: Engagement With Art
Learning in Art Museums: Engagement With Art
Learning in Art Museums: Engagement With Art
Learning in Art Museums: Engagement With Art
Learning in Art Museums: Engagement With Art
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Learning in Art Museums: Engagement With Art

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Part of a panel at AERA 2013 on Learning in Art Museum. Other panelists were: Betsy DiSalvo, Georgia Tech, Karen Knutson, UPCLOSE at U. Pittsburgh, and Sarah Schultz, Walker Art Center with Palmyre Pierroux as Discussant.

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Learning in Art Museums: Engagement With Art

  1. 1. Learning in Art Museums: Engagement With Art Maria Mortati Independent Exhibit Developer San Francisco, CA | AERA 2013
  2. 2. FORMAL Interactive Galleries, Contemporary Wing, Baltimore Museum of Art Center for Creative Connections, Dallas Museum of Art Children’s Creativity Museum Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
  3. 3. INFORMAL The Great Calculation, Exhibit & Events The Giant Hand Machine Project @ The Hammer Museum The San Francisco Mobile Museum Desire Trails Public Program, Headlands Center for the Arts
  4. 4. Museum experience Vatican Museum Museum experience Open Field at the Walker Museum experience Experiments in Engagement
  5. 5. Engagement Platforms at Art Museums Through the art and artists With the art or collections • Civically Engaged Participatory Art • Center for Creative Connections, Dallas Museum of Art • Interactive galleries at the Baltimore Museum of Art – Queens Museum and art projects that address local social and political issues (Tania Bruguera) • Participatory Art – Open Field at the Walker Art Center, Portland Art Museum’s Shine a Light Socially Practice projects
  6. 6. Dallas Museum of Art THE CENTER FOR CREATIVE CONNECTIONS (C3)
  7. 7. C3 is a 12,000 sq ft dedicated space for different types of participation. It was about working an institution’s content in multiple ways.
  8. 8. Gallery as Lab: we went back to the original statement and interpreted it as the theme
  9. 9. What they bring to the table: The Framework for Engaging Art Observers… Are somewhat comfortable looking at art, have the most limited backgrounds in art and art history, least comfortable talking about art. They tend to prefer a guided experience at the museum, may be new to art viewing and just beginning to experience it. Participants… Stronger knowledge of and interest in art. Enjoy learning and the social aspects of their experiences and have strong interest in connecting with works of art in a variety of ways, including through music, dance, dramatic performances, and readings. Independents… Individuals in this group like to view a work of art independently, without explanations or interpretation. These visitorsare confident about their knowledge and seek intense interactions with art. Independents are often practicing artists. The group is less likely to use interpretative resources during their visit. Enthusiasts… Are confident, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and comfortable looking at all types of art. These visitors actively participate in a wide variety of museum programming, they are the most emotionally affected by art, and are most interested in the artist materials and techniques, and in explaining the meaning of a work to a friend. They frequently use the museum and are most likely to be members.
  10. 10. Irvine Foundation Report Source: Getting In On the Act, Understanding Participatory Arts Practices
  11. 11. Initial Definitions of Visitor Activity in C3 As we begin to think of how to define a spectrum for activity, we could consider in this way: • Responding to a prompt or question about a work of art • Reflecting on a work of art in an active way: visitor makes or does something that mimics or reflects the idea of an artwork • Inventing something inspired by a C3 prompt or by simply having the environment and tools to do so 11/14/11 C3#3 Concept Phase Interim Presentation 11
  12. 12. What outcomes do we want to have? • Engagement with art, it’s ideas and the cultural community surrounding our visitors and museum. – How can we put ourselves in the position of addressing the relevance of an object in our contemporary world?
  13. 13. Exhibit Planning Outline 1. Select a variety of objects that offer deep engagement 2. Use of an object's inherent entry points: and develop “interactives” tailored to them 3. Variety of activities for our demographics (age, gender, ethnicity, learning styles, FEA) 4. Modular exhibit approach with a gallery layout revised to mesh architecture with activity 5. Connect to current events in the contemporary world
  14. 14. Object vs. Theme-based Methodology
  15. 15. An Emerging Spatial Language
  16. 16. A new criteria for selecting objects emerges: 1. Ripe for visitor engagement • fosters curiosity • depth: potential for rich content • breadth: allows for entry points across a diverse audience • potential for community interaction • connects with the contemporary world today • lets us play with the subjectivity of art 2. Diverse across the Museum Collection • showcases the diversity of the collection 3. Diverse across the Gallery • there are visual dynamics amongst all works of art at any given time 4. Able to be on loan for an adequate period of time
  17. 17. New Contemporary Wing - Interactive Galleries BALTIMORE MUSEUM OF ART
  18. 18. Interactives & Conceptual Art This is a place where art museums battle participation- where there can be an outright rejection of participation. These projects highlight the potential and problems of such an approach.
  19. 19. Starting with Spatial Evaluation Two new galleries: one a hallway to an elevator, the other, a small space off the atrium yet prominently featured in the architecture of the wing, flanked by the main galleries
  20. 20. Gallery 1: “Open Studio” • This gallery became a space that explored the creative practice of a single artist through a variety of media, activities, and programs • The artist we were opening with was Sarah Oppenheimer, who was producing a large, permanent installation that transected the entire wing of the museum.
  21. 21. Sarah Oppenheimer, W-120301, 2012
  22. 22. Sarah Oppenheimer, W-120301, 2012
  23. 23. Sarah Oppenheimer drawings
  24. 24. Research into the artist’s influences
  25. 25. Hands-on prototypes to get at the essence of playing with the grid of a building
  26. 26. Sketchbooks to let visitors try the artist’s approach on, surrounded by other contextual materials.
  27. 27. Gallery 2: “The Big Table” • Initially, this gallery was going to be where visitors could dive deep and engage with the concept of one work of art and one artist. • Things don’t always work out as planned.
  28. 28. We began with a work in the collection that could fit in the gallery, and have a visual in it that would provide a hook for visitors to play with. Mel Bochner, Optic Chiasma
  29. 29. Front-end prototyping and evaluation
  30. 30. Magnet Activity •Engaged for a few minutes and went to other activity •Used the magnets to stack, slide, but not exclusively to mimic the painting •Visitors looked at the work of art while completing the activity •Liked that the activity was interactive •Did not understand the connection between the questions and activity
  31. 31. Drawing Activity • High dwell time • Worked socially or in isolation • Drawings were varied and arrangements were varied • Visitors liked seeing what other visitors had drawn, and those drawings were also a helpful indication that they were allowed to sit and draw in the Museum. • Visitors did not approach, and/or look at the work of art, although a few interviewees later said they noticed it.
  32. 32. Drawing Activity, #2 Worked out the conceptual and physical issues around space and perspective, and allowing visitors to move the pieces around, while keeping the drawing element front and center.
  33. 33. Starting Over
  34. 34. Working with a concept across contemporary art, vs. a work of art Finding local experts to collaborate with and realize the vision Baltimore Museum of Art
  35. 35. Baltimore Museum of Art and Post Typography
  36. 36. Pages deep letterform drawings
  37. 37. What do you think the possibilities are for children, art, and museum experiences? THANK YOU. MARIA@MORTATI.COM WWW.MORTATI.COM

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