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Experiencing the Museum


April 29th - June 7th, 2018

As part of a project called Museum Pieces, students affiliated with the Department of Art History at Concordia University are actively investigating tactics of inclusion in museum spaces through various methods. Critical way-finding (of which Erin Campbell’s work, Tracing Courses, is an example), co-visits, institutional ethnographies and audio experiments number among these methods.

Museum Pieces, therefore, is an over-arching title for a series of inter-linked investigations into museum visitorship and cultural alienation. Erin Campbell’s tracings of the few surfaces in the MMFA that are touchable, for example, highlights how bodies and spaces of attention are highly coded in museum spaces. If we extend this abstract idea of regulated behaviour and designated encounters made visible in Tracing Courses to individual visitors’ experiences, how do we reconcile the inevitable feelings of alienation experienced in spaces that claim cultural inclusion?

The next phase of Museum Pieces will involve a series of museum visits shared by strangers. Concordia students and alumni will nominate an acquaintance to nominate an acquaintance to then nominate an individual who will join them at the MMFA. This thrice-removed method of pairing visitors is very intentional: it ensures a shared visit between individuals from different standpoints. Each visiting pair will improvise a conversation while exploring the tactile map suggested by Erin Campbell’s Tracing Courses. The resulting conversation will form part of a pod-cast series that explores conversation and difference as a critical research method. With permission, the ensuing conversations will be recorded, edited and made available via Soundcloud as an alternative/supplementary audio-guide for subsequent visitors the MMFA’s permanent collection or those listening from other locations.

Museum Pieces’ goal is to experiment with tactical methods of working with and within museums to accommodate and make space for perspectives, narratives, and experiences that lie outside of museums and within cultural communities.


Dr. Maya Oppenheimer


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