Back to Basics

I took a month long hiatus from my thesis work and I’m now suffering the consequences. Towards the end of July I was feeling incredibly overworked and overwhelmed. I need a break but maybe not a break as long as the one I decided to take. I can’t waste time wishing I’d devoted more energy to research. The past is over and now it’s time to find my focus and hit the ground hard. Not graduating in December isn’t an option. I’ll devote the next few months to finishing my thesis and hoping I don’t hit too many roadblocks along the way!

My first order of business today after class was to do an inventory of my research. I’ve concluded that I’ve spent too much time looking at various authors and not enough time concentrating on the key players. I also looked over my two building case studies to asses what I have and what I still need to find. The breakdown of my literature review at the moment is as follows:


A key component of my thesis defense is that museums have a lot of recreational and social competitors. In order to remain relevant museums should explore engagement practices. Through these practices they will demonstrate their community value. By involving community members museums have a better shot at building lasting relationships. These relationships can not only positively influence visitors but also the institutions themselves. Collaborative curation is one example of an engagement practice and the one I will be defending in my thesis.

Key players in this section will include Yuha Jung, Bill Adair and Nina Simon. In the next month I’ll read more of their material and I also hope to set up interviews.


I would still like to include a collections section in my thesis. In both interviews that I’ve conducted we spoke about how the museum’s collections play into the collaborative curation process. In this section I need to explain collections management policies. I feel that mentioning the percentage of collections on view and in storage at any given time will support my case. I’d also like to provide a case suggesting that collections are part of the public trust and should therefor by used to better serve their communities.

Curatorial Practice

I’m using Terry Smith’s definition of curation in my thesis which reads, “The title of the curator is assumed by anyone who has a more than minimal role in bringing about a situation in which something creative might be done, who manages the possibility of invention, or even organizes opportunities for the consumption of created objects or orchestrates art-like occasions.” In this section I’ll argue that museums should expand their definition of curation and not limit it to the traditional role of the curator in all cases. I’ll need to continue researching for this section and I plan on reading more from both Terry Smith and Lois H. Silverman.

This weekend I’ll be revisiting my research questions and purpose. Most importantly I need to answer this question- What exactly am I defending?


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