DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT AND MUSEUM PRACTICE TODAY

Presented at “Virtual Dialogue” the 2021 Museum Studies International Symposium, November 16-19, hosted by the South Dakota State University

Co-presented with Dr. Dalia Habib Linssen

Art Museums are at a point of inflection under pressures from the global pandemic, economic crisis, and renewed calls for social justice. We taught the undergraduate seminar, “Museum Practice Today,” that examines the unique challenges and opportunities museums face fully remotely in spring 2020. While providing an overview of various museum operations, the course invited students to critically engage in reimagining our cultural organizations to function better and serve more widely. 

Teaching fully remotely challenged us to modify our teaching methodologies and take advantage of the virtual world we found ourselves in. Through digitally oriented assignments and in-class discussion, students explored how museums were transitioning to digital platforms to connect to audiences and communities. From a critical analysis of the museum’s architecture as a typology of space to examinations of online programs through DEI perspectives, students evaluated current practices while proposing possible new directions in art museums. Overall, the course’s goal was not only to prepare students for the museum field today but to equip them to reimagine our cultural institutions of tomorrow. As such, last spring, it was paramount that the course be responsive to our present from a theoretical and practical standpoint, while leaving openness and flexibility for students to create space for museums of the future. 

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