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Storytelling and Reframing Museum Collections
November 16, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
“Ventriloquism seems to be akin to the logic of the encyclopedic museum, in which objects are speaking on behalf of an entire culture, age, or region. Issues of identity, embodiment, performance, and objecthood are at the core of even the most conventional ventriloquist sketch: Where is the voice coming from? How is that voice split into many bodies? Whose voice is this? Who is speaking on behalf of whom?” Jose Luis Blondet
This Agora session looks at the role that storytelling can play in reframing power dynamics that might have previously seemed fixed in terms of how museum collections are framed and how the objects within the collection are mediated. Professionals working on a diverse array of projects come together to share storytelling techniques as tools to increase accessibility, diversity, and inclusion between museums and their multiple publics. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art asked the question “whose voice is the museum throwing?” in the exhibition Not I: Throwing Voices (1500 BCE–2020CE) that spanned nearly the entire date range of the museum’s encyclopedic collection as told through the lens of ventriloquism. Slavery at the Rijksmuseum reframed objects and works of art from the perspective of enslaved people whose histories had previously been obscured from public view. The Multaka Museums as Meeting Point project supported and trained Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Berlin as museum guides so that they could then provide guided museum tours for Syrian and Iraqi refugees in their native language, thus facilitating the interchange of diverse cultural and historical experiences. The Pompeii Commitment project brings in contemporary artists to re-animate and re-frame the archaeological collection and record of one of the most visited cultural sites in the world.
Jose Luis Blondet, Curator of Special Projects, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Maria Holthrop, Curator of History, Rijksmuseum
Salma Jreige, Multaka: Museums as Meeting Point Project Management Team
Andrea Viliani, Head of the CRRI Research Center at Castello di Rivoli and Curator of the Pompeii Commitment Project