Review: Curatorial Dreams

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 12.07.25 PMThinking through the Museum team member Erica Lehrer’s recently co-edited collection (with Shelley Ruth Butler), Curatorial Dreams: Critics Imagine Exhibitions, has been reviewed by Robert Fulford of the National Post. The review, titled “‘Every Exhibition is an Argument’: Scholars Envision Dream Exhibitions that May One Day Exist,” describes the collection as “ground-breaking.”

The review can be accessed here.

In lieu of an abstract, here is an excerpt:

Across the world this is the golden age of museums. Other cultural institutions come and go but the popularity of museums never stops growing. Every city in the world wants one, and if it has one already it wants to make it better by enlarging it and bringing the architecture up to date.

The exhibitions that fill museums are another matter. Patrons often find them disappointing. They are judged old-fashioned, or too trendy. Or they are not “world class.” They tell us too much, or too little, about their subjects.

These are among the reasons to welcome a ground-breaking book, Curatorial Dreams: Critics Imagine Exhibitions (McGill-Queen’s University Press), edited by Shelley Ruth Butler, a cultural anthropologist at McGill, and Erica Lehrer, in the sociology-anthropology department at Concordia.

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Curatorial Dreams book published

Curatorial Dreams book cover (credit: McGill-Queen's University Press)

Curatorial Dreams book cover (credit: McGill-Queen’s University Press)

The Thinking through the Museum team congratulates Dr. Shelley Ruth Butler and Dr. Erica Lehrer for their recently published edited collection, Curatorial Dreams: Critics Imagine ExhibitionsThe collection officially launched, with more than 25 people in attendance, at the ACHS conference (Concordia University) on June 6, 2016 in Montreal, Québec.

This collection, which features chapters from team members Erica Lehrer and Monica Patterson, challenges museum critics to propose exhibitions inspired by their research and critical concerns to creatively put theory into practice.

What if museum critics were challenged to envision their own exhibitions?

Click here for an overview of the collection from the publisher's website...

 

In Curatorial Dreams, fourteen authors from disciplines throughout the social sciences and humanities propose exhibitions inspired by their research and critical concerns to creatively put theory into practice.

Pushing the boundaries of museology, this collection gives rare insight into the process of conceptualizing exhibitions. The contributors offer concrete, innovative projects, each designed for a specific setting in which to translate critical academic theory about society, culture, and history into accessible imagined exhibitions. Spanning Australia, Barbados, Canada, Chile, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, Switzerland, and the United States, the exhibitions are staged in museums, scientific institutions, art galleries, and everyday sites. Essays explore political and practical constraints, imaginative freedom, and experiment with critical, participatory, and socially relevant exhibition design.

While the deconstructive critique of museums remains relevant, Curatorial Dreams charts new ground, proposing unique modes of engagement that enrich public scholarship and dialogue.

 

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