Dr. Lehrer publishes review: “Making #Heritage Great Again”

In response to the exhibition #Heritage at the National Museum in Kraków, Poland, Dr. Erica Lehrer has published a long-form review titled “Making #Heritage Great Again.” The review reads the show critically as the newest volley in a national culture war in the context of Poland’s recent hard rightward turn.

(photo credit: Erica Lehrer)

The review is free to read in the online journal Political Critique, the international arm of Central and Eastern Europe’s largest liberal network of institutions and activists.

Here is a short excerpt:
The #Heritage (#Dziedzictwo) exhibition at Krakow’s National Museum is imposing, grand, and low-tech. It is an old-school, collection-based exhibition that exemplifies a traditional form of museological deceit, where profoundly political work is disguised as objectivity and benevolent custodianship. But #Heritage is novel because it co-opts not only the seeming neutrality of the original museum-as-treasure-box, but also the trappings of more recent, democratic approaches to curating, all while neutralizing true civic debate.”
To read the rest of the review, click here.
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“My museum, a museum about me: or, who owns the legacy of the Polish village?”

(event poster)

On June 27, 2017, Dr. Erica Lehrer will participate in an action to “hack” the Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Krakow. As a supervisor to students leading the project, Dr. Lehrer and the group will use a rattle to lead visitors through the course of the museum hack. It will be passed from hand to hand to make noise – a aural symbol of their “intervention.” Rattles are instruments present in many cultures, a ritual noisemaker used in ceremonies. People often forget that in multicultural villages objects were often passed from one community to another, crossing cultural boundaries and blurring them in the process. Christians used rattles during Holy Week, and Jews used them on Purim (a grager in Yiddish). They plan to use the rattle to symbolize openness to diversity, to work against fantasies of cultural purity, and to recall Poland’s multicultural community.

The project uses the museum as a space of reflection about the contemporary identity (or identities) of those people whose origins lie in the Polish countryside. If this is a “museum about me,” can I find my roots here? Can you? What might be missing in this museum? Or what prevents us from feeling a connection between who we are, and the people and culture on display?

More information about the action and project can be found on facebook and on the museum’s website.

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Dr. Erica Lehrer organizes Museum Anthropology Futures Conference

From May 25 to 27, more than 100 diverse experts in the field are congregating at Concordia University to examine these questions and many others at the US-based Council for Museum Anthropology’s inaugural Museum Anthropology Futures conference.

Learn more about the association’s first conference here.

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TTTM Research Team speaks at International Conference in Poland

panelists

Panelists for the Thinking through the Museum: Difficult Knowledge in Public presentation (Warsaw, Poland; March 13, 2017)

Thinking through the Museum research team members and collaborators closed the momentus “Museums and their Publics at Sites of Conflicted History” international conference in Warsaw, Poland (March 13-15, 2017). The conference explored the role of museums in negotiating new public histories in societies in transition; of special interest was how the historical narratives constructed in museums help to shape new social relations in a dynamically changing present.

Drs. Angela Failler, Heather Igloliorte, Erica Lehrer, and Monica Patterson participated in the conference’s many roundtable and panel discussions, finishing with a panel of their own titled “Thinking through the Museum: Difficult Knowledge in Public.” This panel, which also invited collaborators Dr. Shelley Ruth Butler (McGill University), Hanna Radziejowska (Warsaw Uprising Museum, the Dom Spotkan z Historia [“House of Meetings with History”], Museum of the City of Warsaw), Magdalena Zych (Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum), and Aleksandra Janus (Jagiellonian University), asked the questions:

Can museum institutions question cherished collective myths of heroism and tolerance? To what extent can they be self-critical, and how? What progressive social, political, and educational functions can such museums serve? And most interesting for our research: what roles can scholars, activists, artists, and citizens play in holding these institutions to their highest stated mandates, or even expandingthem? This includes not only their content or modes of representation, but the construction of their audiences. Who are audiences imagined (and encouraged) by museum practitioners to be, and what are these visitors allowed and expected to do? 

The presentation is available for viewing on the conference’s website here.

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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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ACHS 2016: Thinking through the Museum Roundtable

ACHS Thinking through the Museum panel members.

ACHS Thinking through the Museum panel members. (L to R: Jennifer Robinson, Heather Igloliorte, Monica Patterson, Angela Failler, Erica Lehrer, Shelley Butler)

On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, Thinking through the Museum research team members Angela Failler, Heather Igloliorte, Erica Lehrer, and Monica Patterson were joined by colleagues Shelley Ruth Butler and Jennifer C. Robinson for a roundtable discussion at the Association of Critical Heritage Studies conference in Montreal, Québec, Canada.

The discussion focused on the conference’s theme and asked the question: what might the heritage of difficult knowledge change, if productively curated? Participants discussed topics including (but not limited to): slow museology and conflict; game methodologies to address victim competition; children and difficult knowledge; counter-museums and social justice, failed politics of recognition, museum leadership and structure, and indigenous curatorial practice and settler colonialism.

While the Canadian Museum of Human Rights was a central focus, particularly in relation to the Partnership Development Grant from SSHRC, participants also drew on their broad field of engagement, including museums in Poland, South Africa, northern Canada, the United States, and Germany.

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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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Dr. Nadine Blumer & Dr. Erica Lehrer win Connection Grant

Moving Memory Group Shot

L to R: Nadine Blumer, Hourig Attarian, and Anique Vered. (photo credit: CEREV website)

The Thinking through the Museum team would like to congratulate co-applicants Dr. Nadine Blumer, a research collaborator on the Thinking through the Museum project, and Dr. Erica Lehrer for being awarded a SSHRC Connection Grant (2015-2016). It will support the research creation project, “Moving Memory: Difficult Histories in Dialogue,” curated by Dr. Nadine Blumer in collaboration with Dr. Hourig Attarian and artist-researcher Anique Vered.

“Moving Memory” is a collaborative multi-sited research exhibition about the Armenian and Roma genocides that proposes creative solutions to museological and scholarly conflicts around commemoration. The exhibit, a mix of performance and interactive digital media installations, will take place in CaPSL (the Curating and Public Scholarship Lab) as well as opening up into a live conversational happening in the foyer of Concordia’s EV building. By literally moving memory, this project interlinks physical, discursive, and digital spaces of representation, catalyzing the movement of ideas and historical narratives locally and transnationally, and prompting audiences to think through histories of violence in relation to, rather than in opposition to one another. The exhibit launches on June 6th, 2016 as part of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies conference being hosted by Concordia University and UQAM

**reposted, with permission, from the CEREV website**

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