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Studio Museum Institute

Museums as Systems

The two-day, annual Museums as Systems symposium gathers together arts workers to discuss alternative approaches to museum structures.

How are museums systems of artistry, archives, education, labor, care, communication, and community?

Each year the panel discussions explore various theoretical and practical aspects of museum work, putting established arts and cultural workers in dialogue with the next generation of thinkers and workers.

The symposium creates a space of multivocal, multigenerational, circular learning about how museums currently function, what never was, and what could come next.

Museums as Systems: Resources 2023

Day One

DEV 101: Thinking outside the Bag
This panel aims to spotlight how, through creative ingenuity, development departments play integral roles in ensuring the survival of institutions, art, and artists, at every level.
Access and Accessibility as an Act(ion) of Radical Hospitality
This panel offers the perspectives and tactics of art workers and artists who are willing to go beyond tokenizing accessibility and who instead promote a rich, expansive form of equity.

Day Two

For Future Generations
This panel focuses on “extractivism” as it pertains to belongings from the Global South and the African continent that were stolen from their origins. How can agency be given back to populations who were stripped of or denied their cultural identities and/or possessions?
The Question of Love and Community Care
Inspired by bell hooks’s book Salvation: Black People and Love, this panel will consider the possibilities of museums caring for their communities to the same degree as their objects.

Museums as Systems 2022

Day One

Safeguarding Our History
What is our responsibility to the archive, or by extension, our responsibility to history? This session will look at the importance of safeguarding histories and the archive as a potential tool for envisioning the future.
How Museums Speak to People
How do museums communicate with people? Design, media, and communication systems act as translators of institutional values, visions, and missions, as well as mechanisms for problem solving, accessibility, and world building.

Day Two

The Role of Care and Wellness within Institutions
How can you care for others when you’re not cared for? Who is doing care work in museums?
Intersections: Educational and Curatorial Practices
If an exhibition is a learning space, where do the values, intentions, and processes of education and curatorial converge?