This blog is dedicated to the graduate seminar, “Mellon Curatorial Practicum for Graduate Students,” held at Cornell University during the Spring of 2014. This graduate seminar, part of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum‘s Mellon Foundation initiative Connecting Research with Practice, examined a variety of curatorial issues with respect to exhibitions, collections, conservation, and repatriation. The course united critical theory with practice through consultation of relevant scholarly literature coupled with guest lectures by curators and other museum professionals, study trips, and hands-on projects. Conceived as a platform for understanding the complicated histories of museums, collections, and curatorial practice, this seminar looked toward the future of museums in an increasingly globalized world. The themes covered in the seminar include the politics of display, the internationalization of the art market, museum interventions and institutional critique, rituals of spectatorship, provenance and repatriation, community engagement, and museums and the digital humanities.
In the spirit of the Mellon initiative through which this course was conceived, students staged their own curatorial interventions within the Johnson Museum of Art’s galleries as part of their final capstone project. Working closely with the curators and course instructors, students selected artwork(s) to place on display in one of the collection galleries—Asian, European, or Visible Storage—in order to create a thought-provoking, creative juxtaposition and dialogue with other works of art on view. Careful consideration of the object’s location, mode of installation, and relationship to other objects in the gallery space, in concert with critical readings and discussions on curatorial practice, were critical for the successful implementation of these interventions.
The student interventions will be on display from April 29-May 31, 2014 at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, 114 Central Ave, Ithaca, NY 14853. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, free of charge, from 10 AM to 5 PM.