A project of The Avant-Garde Museum Education Class at Pratt Institute and the Guggenheim Museum conceived and created by: Rebecca Armstrong, Trish Kaiser, Amir Parsa, Brittany Sauta, Carley Snack and Shina Yoon
Changeover’s Dilemma was a project undertaken between students in the Avant-Garde Museum Education course taught by Amir Parsa—offered through the Department of Art and Design Education at Pratt Institute and the Guggenheim Museum’s Education Department, specifically with Rachel Ropeik, the Manager of Public Engagement at the museum.
This project, in tune with the class’s other assignments—which focused on bringing about innovative projects to museums—spawned the creation of the Museum Innovation Collective, which in turn chronicled the process of research and thinking around Changeover. The Collective is ongoing and is open to practitioners from across museum studies and practices. It hopes to remain a vibrant and constructive collective of thinkers, artists, designers, and actionists in tune with the possibilities of museums and their functions as social and cultural spaces.
Changeover’s Dilemma seeks to create material and programming during the period when a significant portion of the museum is going through a re-installation due to the ‘changeover’—the period of time between the closing of one major exhibition and the opening of another.
Amir Parsa, along with Rebecca Armstrong, Patricia Kaiser, Brittany Sauta, Carley Snack, and Shina Yoon, worked collaboratively with Rachel Ropeik, Manager of Public Engagement at the Guggenheim, and explored possibilities of educational programming for the changeover period. By the end of February 2016, the process had already involved several visits to the Guggenheim, field work, discussions and debates, along with research into the public offerings of the museum.
Further visits with Rachel Ropeik to better understand the Guggenheim perspective allowed the group to re-visit certain concepts, given the challenges of implementation. We synthesized project ideas, prioritized certain initiatives and collectively chose the threads we would explore and pursue.
The collective decided to focus on:
- A Changeover pamphlet or ‘education card’ that could be applicable to all changeovers, independent of the shows preceding or following any one Changeover—an ‘evergreen card’;
- New gallery learning experiences (GLExes) that would then be revised by Guggenheim educators and delivered during Changeover;
- A social media platform that would serve as an alternative space to both chronicle the process of the group’s thinking about Changeover, and also provide thoughts and reflections on the potential of Changeover as a whole.
The gallery learning experiences were explored further with the Guggenheim’s educators in April 2016. Below are further summary details on each of these threads of Changeover’s Dilemma.
The gallery learning experiences (Download .DOC) were explored further with the Guggenheim’s educators in April 2016. Below are further summary details on each of these threads of Changeover’s Dilemma.
1. The Changeover Evergreen Card
The Changeover ‘evergreen’ card, a prototype that is being considered by the museum’s education department as a potential feature during Changeover, integrates information on various aspects of the Changeover as well as reflective activities geared towards museum-goers. The card is a proposal/prototype and not an official tool of the museum’s.
This card includes information on Changeover itself, on various aspects of the architecture of the museum, along with information on various features of the overall ‘spectacle’ that the museum turns into. Jessie Braden, Director of Pratt’s SAVI lab, also participated with the group to create visual maps of the Guggenheim spaces and the metamorphosing closing/openings over the span of any one Changeover.
2. Gallery Learning Experiences
Two gallery learning experiences were designed by students in the group and shared with Rachel and educators from the Guggenheim. These GLExes formed the foundation of learning experiences that can then be adapted by some educators during the actual Changeover within the museum.
The GLExes include the examination of structural elements of Changeover, conversations with staff present during Changeover (Changeover Tales) as well as examination of artworks in adjacent galleries with a view to comparing the artwork on view with the experience of Changeover. Activities also invite participants in the GLEx to chronicle their psychological and emotional reactions to Changeover throughout with drawing and writing exercises.
3. Social Media
A Facebook group, which, again, will continue to function, chronicles in summary form the process of reflection on Changover and the evolving ideas about possible educational and public programming. This Facebook page will continue to operate as the province of the Museum Innovation Collective.
The overall engagement with Changeover allowed the group to contribute to the Guggenheim’s thinking with public engagement during this challenging period. Through the proposals and the overall Changeover’s Dilemma Project, Changeover itself becomes the locus of reflection on the museum and museum practices, including exhibition, curation, education, and installation of works. Museum practices come to the forefront and become visible during this public engagement.
The project further expands students’ familiarity with museum work by engaging them in a museum’s ongoing reflections. Students took into account various logistical and social dimensions of the project, and engaged with various elements of the challenges and opportunities presented. They researched, wrote and collaborated. In the end, they created work that genuinely contributes to the Guggenheim’s thinking about the potential of Changeover, and provides a framework for the creation of material and educational gallery learning experiences.