Presentation Title

Evaluating a Need for Somatic Access to Classical Objects in Public Museums

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Category

Social Sciences/Humanities

Abstract/Artist Statement

Physical experiences with ancient art objects in museums are rare. Display paradigms in most public institutions continue to propagate systems of participant interaction that reinforces unequal power structures.

The Montana Musuem of Art and Culture (MMAC) is the current custodian of an ancient, Rhodian wine amphora that provides an opportunity to examine a novel system of somatic participation. This proposal upends traditional gatekeeping practices and serves as a powerful and progressive, humanist touchstone; an olive branch extended to the general public from behind the walls of higher education and the ramparts of privileged scholarship. This study reimagines the amphora's future custody and suggests a purely somatic method of display that dispenses with traditional, institutional supplementation. The MMAC’s potential somatic exhibition encourages touching the surface of a 2300-year-old artifact. This experiment offers museum goers a novel chance to create autonomous knowledge through touch while simultaneously bridging chasms in educational backgrounds and cultural privileges.

This proposal draws on defensible and pertinent philosophical and theoretical positions to argue for a method of museum practice that will transform and decolonize audiences’ interactions with classical objects from a prescribed and narrow interplay into a more equitable and democratic interrelation. I illuminate a need for the objects that chronicle a segment of our shared history (classical objects in particular) to be made available to museum visitors for direct, physical touch.

Mentor Name

Valerie Hedquist

Personal Statement

My work, which relies heavily on the deconstruction of institutional paradigms, offers all publicly funded museums an opportunity to immediately and poignantly reorganize their system of participant interactions and elegantly address the urgent need for intersectionality and the rectification of inequities of class-privilege. My graduate studies have helped me to formulate a solution to an under-addressed, but nonetheless pressing problem within the collegiate museum culture. With the implementation of my proposal, the MMAC and any other museums that so choose, can easily challenge and transform the power imbalances that exist in the viewer/museum relationship. My proposal give the Montana Museum of Art and Culture a functional opportunity to pioneer the forefront of a system that will transform the relationship between viewers and the art world. The community aimed direction of the MMAC can be fully realized if my system of somatic access is employed. The 2300 year old, Rhodian wine amphora that has been in the University of Montana's stewardship for 60 years, can be brought from relative obscurity to a place, both literal and idealogical, that links the public with the people of ancient civilizations and simultaneously extends an institutional olive branch to public. This experience of simply touching an object will dismantle an overarching barrier that has distanced the common citizen from both the classical world and the art world in general.

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Mar 4th, 1:50 PM Mar 4th, 2:05 PM

Evaluating a Need for Somatic Access to Classical Objects in Public Museums

UC 331

Physical experiences with ancient art objects in museums are rare. Display paradigms in most public institutions continue to propagate systems of participant interaction that reinforces unequal power structures.

The Montana Musuem of Art and Culture (MMAC) is the current custodian of an ancient, Rhodian wine amphora that provides an opportunity to examine a novel system of somatic participation. This proposal upends traditional gatekeeping practices and serves as a powerful and progressive, humanist touchstone; an olive branch extended to the general public from behind the walls of higher education and the ramparts of privileged scholarship. This study reimagines the amphora's future custody and suggests a purely somatic method of display that dispenses with traditional, institutional supplementation. The MMAC’s potential somatic exhibition encourages touching the surface of a 2300-year-old artifact. This experiment offers museum goers a novel chance to create autonomous knowledge through touch while simultaneously bridging chasms in educational backgrounds and cultural privileges.

This proposal draws on defensible and pertinent philosophical and theoretical positions to argue for a method of museum practice that will transform and decolonize audiences’ interactions with classical objects from a prescribed and narrow interplay into a more equitable and democratic interrelation. I illuminate a need for the objects that chronicle a segment of our shared history (classical objects in particular) to be made available to museum visitors for direct, physical touch.