Shared Authority and Emperical Research

Over the weekend I accepted a visitor services position at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, which I’m very excited about! I’m having to readjust my schedule and figure out how to juggle my internship, job, and thesis research. As a result, I’m a few days late on my weekly posting goal.

Last week I finished reading Museums and Communities: Curators, Collections and Collaboration. In the collection I came across an essay by Mary Hutchinson titled ‘”Shared Authority”: Collaboration, Curatorial Voice and Exhibition Design in Canberra, Australia.’ Hutchinson addresses some potential problems with open discourse within museums. Hutchinson believes that though some issues may arise that museums should explore acting as social agents for their communities. She also discusses exhibition design, something I’d like to explore further in my thesis. When discussing text panels in her exhibition case study Hutchinson remembers, “Events and experiences within the story were specified through details of memory, sensations, and fleetings of the moment” (Pg. 151). Text, interpretation, objects, and images enhance the exhibition and better tell the story. I took a lot away from reading her essay included that in order for shared authority to work within a museum both scholarly and cultural and experiential authority must be present.

As part of my empirical research I attended the gallery opening of Corner Store Take-Out Stories at the Asian Arts Initiative. The participatory exhibition is a collaboration between artists Ernel Martinez and Keir Johnston and the Initiative. According to the brochure, “Corner Store explores the contemporary and psychological intersections between pan-ethnic Black and Asian communities in Philadelphia and how our relationships are shaped based on which side/s of the counter we may stand.” Even though it doesn’t specifically align with my thesis goals I was interested in the exhibit content and the unconventional way that it’s presented. I look forward to speaking with someone at the Initiative more about the exhibition and their institution goals.

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