What is a museum today? A giant fun house? A really artsy mall? Museums are wildly diverse in their sizes, annual operating budgets, missions, and their urban context.
In the summer of 2013, a group of 15 public high school students from across the Hudson Valley participated in an Urban Investigation project in collaboration with CUP, the Dia Art Foundation, and teaching artist Katarzyna Balug. The group asked: “What is the role of a museum in a city?”
The group interviewed museum directors, curators, and educators. They also spoke with artists, academics, and cultural consultants to examine different ways a museum can impact a city. Students found that some interviewees saw museums as temples for reflection, others considered them educational hubs, while some recognized museums as tourist magnets, or incubators for community activities.
Armed with their research, the group explored how a museum and its host city can influence each other in multiple ways, and prototyped museums for centuries from now: museums that lack walls, that are utopian, dystopian, carved from precious stones, or run by residents. These large-scale models form the bedrock of an illustrated booklet they created to teach others what they learned and present alternative museum futures.
On Saturday, October 5th 2013, at Dia:Chelsea students were joined by Yasmil Raymond, curator of Dia Art Foundation; Prerana Reddy, Director of Public Programs & Community Engagement for the Queens Museum; and Gonzalo Casals, former Director of Education and Public Programs at El Museo del Barrio, and discussed the students’ project.
They also presented their work on October 19th, 2013 to museumgoers at Dia:Beacon’s Community Free Day, where they were joined by community members, two Beacon mayors (past and present), and a state assembly member. In addition to presenting Museumopolis, students worked with the Museum Teen Summit to lead gallery tours and an interactive workshop.
Get your own copy of the booklet here!