Transcript: Reinventing Museums | Feb 21, 2018

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a black blazer over a purple blouse, and a golden necklace.

A caption on screen reads "Reinventing museums. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says OVER THE PAST DECADE,
ART GALLERIES AND MUSEUMS HAVE
HAD TO EVOLVE TO KEEP UP WITH
CHANGING TECHNOLOGY AND TO
SHIFTING VIEWS OF WHAT'S
APPROPRIATE TO DISPLAY AS
ARTIFACT.
THEY'VE ALSO HAD TO CONNECT WITH
COMMUNITIES THEY HAVEN'T HAD
GREAT RELATIONSHIPS WITH IN THE
PAST.
IT'S ALL RAISED IMPORTANT
QUESTIONS FOR THE SECTOR AND FOR
THE PUBLIC.
JOINING US NOW TO EXPLORE THESE
CHANGES:
IN HAMILTON... NOT THAT
HAMILTON, HAMILTON, BERMUDA VIA
SKYPE:
GAIL LORD, PRESIDENT AND
CO-FOUNDER OF LORD CULTURAL RESOURCES...

Gail is in her fifties, with chin-length blond hair. She's wearing round glasses and a red blazer.

Nam continues AND HERE IN OUR STUDIO:
SILVIA FORNI, CURATOR OF
ANTHROPOLOGY IN THE ROYAL
ONTARIO MUSEUM'S DEPARTMENT OF
WORLD CULTURES...

Silvia is in her forties, with long wavy chestnut hair. She's wearing a gray blouse and a necklace made of aluminum can tabs.

Nam continues WE ALSO HAVE GORDON SHADRACH, PORTRAIT ARTIST...

Gordon is in his late forties, with short-cropped black hair and a white beard. He's wearing glasses, a green suit, blue shirt, and printed bowtie.

Nam continues AND ANDREW HUNTER, SENIOR
CURATOR AT THE ART GALLERY OF GUELPH...

Andrew is in his forties, bald, with a full white beard. He's wearing glasses, a gray sweater, striped scarf, and a red button that reads "Hashtag justice for Colten."

Nam continues WELCOME TO YOU ALL.
I WOULD LIKE TO POSE THE FIRST
QUESTION TO EVERYBODY, BUT I
THINK I'LL START WITH GAIL,
SINCE SHE'S NOT HERE IN THE
STUDIO WITH US.
ARE MUSEUMS STILL RELEVANT?

The caption changes to "Gail Lord. Lord Cultural Resources."

Gail says THEY'RE MORE
RELEVANT THAN EVER.
THE NEED IS MORE THAN EVER AND
THE AUDIENCE IS BIGGER THAN
EVER.

Nam says AND ANDREW, I NOTICE
THAT YOU'RE WEARING SOMETHING
Hashtag JUSTICEFORCOLTENBOUSHIE.

The caption changes to "Andrew Hunter. Art Gallery of Guelph."
Then, it changes again to "From past to present."

Andrew says THOSE OF US
WORKING IN THE FIELD HAVE TO
RECOGNIZE THE COLONIAL LEGACY,
THE ROOTS OF THESE INSTITUTIONS
AS COLONIAL INSTITUTIONS, AND I
THINK WHEN WE'RE RE-EVALUATING
THEIR ROLE, WE HAVE TO SEE THEM
WITHIN THE WIDER CULTURE.
WE CAN'T JUST THINK ABOUT
MUSEUMS WITHIN MUSEUM AND
GALLERY CONVERSATIONS.
WE HAVE TO THINK OF THEM IN THE
WIDER CULTURE.

Nam says AS PART OF SOCIETY?

Andrew says AS PART OF SOCIETY.
SO WHEN WE CRITIQUE MUSEUMS FOR
BEING TOO WHITE IN CANADA, WE
HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THAT WITHIN
THE CONTEXT OF EDUCATION,
POLITICS, THE LEGAL SYSTEMS THAT
LED TO WHAT HAPPENED TO COLTEN.
WE NEED TO HAVE THESE
CONVERSATIONS IN A MUCH BIGGER
FRAMEWORK THAN HISTORICALLY WE
HAVE HAD.

The caption changes to "Silvia Forni. Royal Ontario Museum."

Silvia says I AGREE.
MUSEUMS ARE RELEVANT.
THEY ARE IN MANY WAYS STILL
FOUNDATIONAL IN THE WAY OUR
EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM WORKS.
THEY'RE WHERE CHILDREN GO TO
LEARN ABOUT THE NATION IN MANY
WAYS AND ABOUT THE IDEA OF THE
NATION AND SOCIETY THAT THEY'RE
GROWING UP INTO.
SO THEY'RE IMPORTANT EDUCATIONAL
INSTITUTIONS AND THEY NEED TO
EVOLVE AND TRANSFORM TO KEEP UP
WITH THE RELEVANT ISSUES OF
SOCIETY.

Nam says AND, GORDON, YOU ARE A
SELF-TAUGHT ARTIST.

Gordon says YES.

Nam says YOU'RE ALSO A TEACHER.
ARE MUSEUMS STILL RELEVANT?

The caption changes to "Gordon Shadrach. Portrait Artist."

Gordon says I DEFINITELY THINK SO AS WELL.
I WORK WITH GRADE 2 STUDENTS
GENERALLY AND YOU CAN REALLY SEE
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HAVING
CHILDREN JUST THINK ABOUT
CONCEPTS AND THEORY AND ACTUALLY
SEEING SOMETHING AND MAKING IT
TANGIBLE FOR THEM.
IT'S A VERY IMPORTANT STEP FOR
THEIR COMPREHENSION.
BUT I ALSO THINK AN IMPORTANT
PART OF THIS IS ALSO
ACKNOWLEDGING THAT OUR
CURRICULUM IS CHANGING SO THAT
WE'RE TEACHING CHILDREN TO
QUESTION WHAT THEY SEE AND
QUESTION HOW THINGS ARE BEING
PRESENTED AND GETTING THEM TO
RECOGNIZE THAT THERE ARE
DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES IN WHAT
WE'RE SEEING IN MUSEUMS.

Nam says SO BECOME... WELL, BE
MORE CRITICAL?

Andrew says YES.

Nam says DO THEY NEED TO
MOVE... DO MUSEUMS NEED TO MOVE
BEYOND BEING COLLECTORS OF THINGS?

Gordon says I THINK THEY DO.
ONE OF THE THINGS YOU ALSO HAVE
TO RECOGNIZE IS COLLECTING
THINGS AS A WAY OF RECORDING
HISTORY OR THE DISPLAY OF THINGS
AS A WAY OF SPEAKING OF HISTORY
OR SPEAKING OF CULTURE IS ALSO
VERY SPECIFIC TO A COLONIAL
MODEL.
THE ACQUISITION OF THINGS IS A
COLONIAL APPROACH.

Nam says MEANING THAT THESE
ITEMS WERE TAKEN DURING...

Andrew says YEAH, OR EVEN JUST THE SENSE
OF FOR ME TO KNOW ABOUT YOU, I
HAVE TO GET SOMETHING FROM YOU.
I HAVE TO HOLD SOMETHING.
SO OFTEN WHAT WE SEE IN MUSEUMS
AND ARCHIVES AND GALLERIES IS
THINGS THAT MAYBE HAVEN'T
HISTORICALLY BEEN VALUED WITHIN
A WESTERN MODEL ARE JUST NOT
PRESENT, AND SO GOING BACK TO
WHAT GORDON WAS SAYING,
ABSOLUTELY, THE CURRICULUM IS
CHANGING.
STUDENTS ARE ENCOURAGED TO ASK
QUESTIONS WHEN THEY COME, WHICH
IS BRILLIANT, BUT THEY ALSO HAVE
TO ENCOUNTER THINGS THAT ARE
RELEVANT TO THEM.
SO FOR TOO MANY PEOPLE, COMING
TO MUSEUMS HAS BEEN AN EDUCATION
IN COLONIAL DOMINANCE, AND TOO
MANY PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN OVER
THEIR HISTORIES ABOUT, WELL, THE
MUSEUM ISN'T REALLY RELEVANT TO
ME BECAUSE I'M NOT SEEING MYSELF
REFLECTED IN THE ARTWORK, IN THE
OBJECTS, IN THE PEOPLE WHO
EITHER WORK THERE OR ARE LEADING
AND GOVERNING THOSE
INSTITUTIONS.

Nam says GAIL, DO YOU AGREE?
DO YOU THINK MUSEUMS SHOULD MOVE
BEYOND BEING COLLECTORS OF THINGS?

A satellite image pops up briefly showing the location of Hamilton, Bermuda.

Gail says YEAH.
WELL, I THINK ANDREW HAS PUT IT
VERY, VERY WELL.
I THINK THAT, FOR ONE THING,
TECHNOLOGY NOW MAKES IT POSSIBLE
FOR MUSEUMS TO COLLECT STORIES
AS WELL AS OBJECTS, AND OF
COURSE THERE ARE CONFLICTING
STORIES ABOUT THE OBJECTS, AND
THAT BECOMES SOMETHING REALLY
VERY IMPORTANT FOR A MUSEUM TO
BE ABLE TO DO, TO SAY THAT FOR
ONE INDIVIDUAL, AN OBJECT IS A
STORY OF OPPRESSION; FOR
ANOTHER, THE STORY IS OF
CONQUEST.
AND SO THAT REALLY... THAT
REALLY HAS TO BE TAKEN ON BOARD.
OBJECTS ARE STILL VERY, VERY
IMPORTANT.
THEY'RE VERY POWERFUL.
AND I THINK THAT FOR PEOPLE OF
EVERY AGE GROUP, AN OBJECT CAN
SPARK REFLECTING AND (INAUDIBLE)
AND I THINK IT TAKES BOTH SIDES
OF THIS.

Nam says I'D LIKE TO SPEND A
FEW MINUTES TALKING ABOUT THE
ROM'S NEW EXHIBIT.
HERE WE ARE HERE.
SILVIA, TELL US WHAT THAT IS?

The caption changes to "Healing old wounds."

Silvia says IT'S AN CONTEMPORARY ART
EXHIBIT FEATURING NINE ARTISTS,
NINE BLACK ARTISTS.
BLACK CANADIAN CONTEMPORARY ART.
AND IT'S AN EXHIBITION THAT IS
THE END OF A FIVE-YEAR PROJECT
THAT JULIE COOK AND GORDON AND I
WORKED TOGETHER ON CALLED HEART
OF AFRICA IN WHICH WE REALLY
THOUGHT OF VARIOUS WAYS TO
RE-THINK THE WAY IN WHICH THE
AFRICAN DIASPORA WAS REPRESENTED
WITHIN THE MUSEUM.
AND WE DID A NUMBER OF SMALLER
EXHIBITIONS, SYMPOSIA AND
LECTURES AND REALLY TOOK OUR
TIME TO THINK ABOUT NEW WAYS TO
TALK ABOUT THE HISTORY OF NOT
JUST AFRICA BUT ALSO BLACKNESS
IN CANADA, AND IT WAS A VERY
ORGANIC, LONG-TERM PROCESS IN
WHICH WE HAD MULTIPLE
CONVERSATIONS OF ENGAGEMENT WITH
DIFFERENT MEMBERS OF THE
COMMUNITY, AND HERE WE ARE HERE
REFLECTING A YEAR CONVERSATION
WE HAD WITH THE ARTISTS, SO IT
WAS AN EXHIBITION THAT DEVELOPED
OUT OF WORKSHOPPING TOGETHER
IDEAS, AND WE'RE VERY HAPPY WITH
THE RESULT BECAUSE IT PRESENTS
MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES.

Nam says I WANT TO COME BACK TO
YOUR MOTIVE FOR HAVING THIS
EXHIBIT BUT, GORDON, YOU'RE PART OF IT.
WHAT'S YOUR CONTRIBUTION?

Gordon says I CONTRIBUTED A PAINTING CALLED
"IN CONVERSATION," WHICH IS A
PAINTING OF MY NIECE BY
MARRIAGE, SHE'S NOT RELATED TO
ME BY BLOOD.
IT'S TO SHOW THE LONGEVITY OF
BLACK PEOPLE IN CANADA.
SO SHE'S A NOVA SCOTIAN BLACK
WOMAN AND SHE HAS METIS HERITAGE
AS WELL MIXED IN WITH HER.

A picture shows a black woman with curly hair taking a selfie in front of a wall which is half exposed brick and half white. She's wearing a pale blue top and a long, vertically striped skirt with matching pants.

Gordon continues SO I CREATED A PAINTING THAT IS
SORT OF SUBVERTS THE CODE OF A
SELFIE WHERE, INSTEAD OF TAKING
KNOWN SORT OF IDEAS WHICH YOU
SEE COMMONLY IN SELFIES, I HAD
HER CREATE HER OWN STORY.
SO EVERYTHING SHE IS WEARING IN
THE PAINTING AND EVEN THE
BACKGROUND IS PART OF A CODED
LANGUAGE THAT SHE CAN UNDERSTAND
AND THAT I CAN UNDERSTAND THAT
DISCUSSES HER FEELINGS ABOUT
BEING A BLACK WOMAN IN CANADA,
CONTEMPORARY BLACK WOMAN, WHAT
IT MEANS TO HER TO BE A MOTHER,
A PARTNER, A DAUGHTER.
ALL THOSE THINGS ARE ROLLED UP
INTO THIS PORTRAIT.

Nam says BEING A SELF-TAUGHT
ARTIST, WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR
YOU TO BE A PART OF THIS EXHIBIT?

Gordon says YOU KNOW, IT'S BEEN AN
AMAZING EXPERIENCE.
BUT I ALSO THINK THAT IT'S HOW
MUSEUMS ARE EVOLVING.
I THINK IT'S AMAZING I WAS PART
OF THIS PROCESS.
THE DIVERSITY OF WORK WE'RE
SEEING WITHIN THE SHOW AND ART
AND ME BEING PART OF IT IS
SHOWING THAT MUSEUMS ARE
CONSCIOUSLY THINKING ABOUT
DIFFERENT WAYS OF BRINGING IN
DIFFERENT PEOPLE, WHETHER AS
CONTRIBUTORS OR AS VISITORS TO
THE MUSEUM.

Nam says SILVIA, I WANT TO GO
BACK TO THE ROM.
THE ROM HAS HAD A TROUBLED PAST
WITH THE BLACK COMMUNITY.
WHAT WAS "INTO THE HEART OF AFRICA"?

The caption changes to "Silvia Forni, @silforni."

Silvia says IT WAS AN EXHIBITION THAT THE
ROM INSTALLED IN 1989 WHICH WAS
INTENDED TO BE A SELF-REFLECTIVE
EXHIBITION ON THE ORIGIN OF
AFRICAN COLLECTIONS AT THE ROM.
AND THAT BACKFIRED ON A NUMBER
OF LEVELS, BUT THAT REALLY
DIDN'T PRESENT WHAT THE
CRITICISM TO THE COLONIAL VIEW
AND DIDN'T REALLY PRESENT A
CRITICAL ENGAGEMENT WITH
COLLECTING IN A WAY THAT WAS
EFFECTIVE IN MUSEUM TERMS.
AND THERE WAS A PROTEST THAT
HAPPENED AT THAT POINT.
AND THE MUSEUM REACTED IN A VERY
CLOSED WAY.

Nam says IN WHAT WAY?

The caption changes to "Connect with us: @theagenda, TVO.org, Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Instagram."

Silvia says WELL, IT DIDN'T ENGAGE WITH
THE PROTESTERS ON A SERIOUS...

Nam says AND PEOPLE WERE UPSET
WITH THE EXHIBIT BECAUSE PEOPLE
THOUGHT IT WAS RACIST.

Silvia says PEOPLE THOUGHT IT WAS RACIST
BECAUSE IT PRESENTED IMAGES AND
WORDS THAT WERE DRAWN FROM
COLONIAL PUBLICATIONS AND THE
COUNTER-VOICE WAS NOT HEARD OR
WAS NOT AS STRONG AS THOSE
IMAGES AND THOSE WORDS.
SO EVEN THOUGH THE INTENT WAS
NOT RACIST, THE RESULT WAS, YET
AGAIN, A PRETTY STRONG
REPETITION OF CONCEPTS AND IDEAS
THAT, MAYBE FROM A WHITE LIBERAL
PERSPECTIVE, WERE PAST GONE, BUT
FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF BLACK
COMMUNITY WERE STILL VERY MUCH
Part of the society in which they were living.

Nam says I KNOW YOU WEREN'T
LIVING THERE AT THE TIME BUT HOW
DOES THIS... IS THIS EXHIBIT A
WAY OF MAKING AMENDS?

Silvia says I WOULDN'T REALLY SAY THAT.
I THINK THIS EXHIBIT IS A WAY OF
SHOWING THAT THE MUSEUM IS
CHANGING AND WE WANT TO BE A
DIFFERENT INSTITUTION.
I MEAN, I WOULDN'T NECESSARILY
SEE THIS AS AN AMEND FOR "INTO
THE HEART OF AFRICA."
IT'S PART OF A BROADER PROCESS.
YOU DON'T JUST DO AN EXHIBITION.
AND THAT'S WHAT "INTO THE HEART
OF AFRICA" WANTED TO BE AND
THAT'S WHY WE STARTED WITH A
SYMPOSIUM AND NOT AN EXHIBITION
BECAUSE IT WAS REALLY
RETHINKING... WHAT WE WERE
TALKING ABOUT EARLIER: WHAT IS
THE RELEVANCE OF A MUSEUM IN THE
21ST CENTURY?
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE THESE
COLLECTIONS?
WHAT CAN WE DO TO BE... TO
TRANSFORM SOCIETY OR ENGAGE WITH
SOCIETY IN A WAY THAT IS
MEANINGFUL AND RELEVANT, AND TO
DO IT WITH A COMMUNITY WITH WHOM
THE ROM HISTORICALLY DID
(INAUDIBLE).
IN 2012 WE REBRANDED AS A
COMMUNITY CONNECTOR AND IT
BECAME EVIDENT THAT THERE WAS NO
WAY OF REALLY BELIEVING IN THAT
BRAND IF WE DIDN'T TACKLE THIS
HISTORY.

Nam says SO YOU LOOKED AT IT HEAD-ON?

Silvia says YEAH.

Nam says GAIL AND ANDREW, I'D
LIKE TO BRING YOU BACK INTO THE
CONVERSATION.
HOW CAN MUSEUMS FOSTER BETTER
RELATIONSHIPS WITH COMMUNITIES
THEY MAY NOT HAVE HAD GREAT
CONNECTIONS WITH IN THE PAST?
ANDREW?
SORRY, GO AHEAD.

The caption changes to "Gail Lord, @Gail_Lord."
Then, it changes again to "Colonial roots."

Gail says I'D ACTUALLY
LIKE TO COMMENT ON THE
PARTICULAR SITUATION OF THE ROM.
I DO REMEMBER THAT EXHIBITION,
AND QUITE FRANKLY, IT WAS
RACIST.
IT WASN'T THE IMAGINATION OF THE
PEOPLE PROTESTING.
IT WAS RIDICULOUS THAT MATERIAL
THAT WAS INTENDED AS REALLY
RACIALLY... CREATING A HIERARCHY
OF CIVILIZATION, LET'S PUT IT
THAT WAY, WAS PRESENTED AT FACE
VALUE AND THE CURATOR AT THE
TIME WAS (INDISCERNIBLE).
THEY THOUGHT EVERYBODY WOULD
UNDERSTAND THE IRONY.
A FEW COMMENTS.
AND I GUESS I'M FRANKLY A WHITE
LIBERAL, SO THERE WE GO.
WHY DOES IT TAKE THE ROM ALMOST
20 YEARS TO COME TO TERMS WITH
SOMETHING THAT OCCURRED IN THE
PAST.
THAT'S A PROBLEM.
THE OTHER PROBLEM... THERE ARE A
SERIES OF PROBLEMS AND IT'S NOT
JUST WITH THE ROM.
ANOTHER PROBLEM IS THAT THERE IS
NO DIVERSITY, OR VERY, VERY
LITTLE, I WANT TO SAY, ON THE
BOARDS OF OUR INSTITUTIONS,
INCLUDING THE ROM.
IT'S NOT DIFFERENT FROM ANY OF
THE OTHERS IN THAT RESPECT.
AND I THINK THAT UNLESS THERE IS
BOARD REPRESENTATION, THEN THERE
ISN'T REALLY A HUGE POLICY
INITIATIVE.
MAYBE WHAT THE ROM SHOULD BE
DOING IS IT'S GREAT TO DO THE
EXHIBITION, I'VE SEEN THE
EXHIBITION, AND IT'S A TERRIFIC
EXHIBITION, AND GORDON,
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR PIECE.
IT'S A POWERFUL PORTRAIT.
BUT I'D LIKE TO SEE THE ROM
ADVOCATE THAT WE NEED AN
AFRICAN-CANADIAN MUSEUM.
I THINK IT'S HIGH TIME THAT OUR
MUSEUMS ACTUALLY TOOK A STAND ON
SOME THINGS RATHER THAN SAYING,
"OH, WE'RE GOING TO DO BETTER.
WATCH US DO BETTER."
THAT'S MY VIEW.

Nam says SILVIA, I'LL LET YOU
RESPOND TO THAT.

Silvia says WELL, YES.
I MEAN... BUT I THINK AN
AFRICAN-CANADIAN MUSEUM, IT'S A
WONDERFUL THING, BUT IT SHOULD
ALSO BE SOMETHING THAT THE ROM
AND THE COMMUNITY ADVOCATE FOR.
IT'S NOT JUST THE ROM'S
DECISION.
I MEAN, FROM THE POINT OF VIEW
OF THE ROM, WE HAVE AN
OBLIGATION TO DO BETTER.
AND THAT'S WHAT WE CAN REALLY
ACT UPON.

Nam says DO YOU THINK, THOUGH,
THAT 20 YEARS IS TOO LATE?

Silvia says WELL, IT'S HARD FOR ME TO SAY.
I WASN'T THERE.
IT'S SOMETHING THAT I STARTED
WORKING FROM THE MOMENT I GOT MY
JOB, AND IT TOOK TIME FOR ME TO
BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE
COMMUNITY BECAUSE I'M NOT FROM
THE COMMUNITY, AND THAT'S ALSO
PART OF THE DIVERSITY ISSUE.
BUT IT IS ALSO TRUE THAT REALLY,
YET STILL, AND THIS IS A BROADER
THING THAT WE ARE WORKING ON
WITH YOUTH INTERNSHIPS AND
TRYING TO GET KIDS INTERESTED
AND IN THE MUSEUM WHEN THEY'RE
IN HIGH SCHOOL, BECAUSE IT'S
ABOUT BUILDING THAT CULTURE.
IT'S ABOUT BUILDING AND OPENING
UP, BEING PART OF THE MUSEUM
PROFESSION AS A POSSIBILITY
EARLY ON.
BECAUSE WHEN I WAS HIRED THERE
WEREN'T A LOT OF PEOPLE FROM THE
COMMUNITY THAT HAD GONE THROUGH
THE EDUCATIONAL PATH THAT IS
REQUIRED TO BECOME A MUSEUM
CURATOR.
ALSO BECAUSE THERE'S NOT A
REAL... THERE WASN'T, AND IT'S
LONG-TERM BUILDING JUST GIVEN
THIS AS A POSSIBILITY.

Nam says I'D LIKE TO ASK ANDREW
AND GORDON, WHAT DO YOU THINK
ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF HAVING
A MUSEUM THAT CELEBRATES BLACK CANADIANS?

Gordon says IT'S
INTERESTING THIS IDEA OF YOUTH
ENGAGEMENT BECAUSE THAT'S BEEN
SOMETHING I'VE NOTICED, I'VE
BEEN MEETING A LOT OF YOUNG
BLACK PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN
REALLY EXCITED TO SEE MY WORK.
AND I THINK... JUST SOMETHING
ABOUT WHAT SILVIA WAS SAYING.
I THINK IT'S A BIG, BIG PICTURE.
BECAUSE IF YOUTH OF TODAY AREN'T
RECOGNIZING THAT THEY HAVE VALUE
AND THEY HAVE A VOICE IN THESE
INSTITUTIONS, YOU KNOW, WHEN
I'VE BEEN... I WAS BORN HERE 51
YEARS AGO AND I DIDN'T SEE
REPRESENTATION WHEN I WAS A
CHILD, AND IF YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY
STILL DON'T RECOGNIZE THAT THEY
HAVE THE POWER TO BE PART OF
THIS, THEN THERE'S A LOT MORE
GOING ON THAT HAS TO BE WORKED
ON AS A WHOLE SOCIETY.

Nam says SO BEFORE WE GET TO
THE MUSEUM, WE HAVE TO WORK AT
THE STRUCTURE THAT'S IN PLACE RIGHT NOW?

Gordon says JUST IN THE FACT THAT I DON'T
THINK, FROM MY EXPERIENCES, I
FEEL LIKE SOME PEOPLE AREN'T
RECOGNIZING THAT THESE
INSTITUTIONS ARE OPEN TO THEM,
THAT THERE ARE THINGS AVAILABLE
TO THEM AND THAT THEY CAN
ACTUALLY BE A PART OF IT AND
THINGS TO ASPIRE TOWARDS.

Nam says ANDREW?

The caption changes to "Andrew Hunter, @HunterCurator."

Andrew says WELL,
THERE'S TWO THREADS TO THAT.
FIRST OF ALL, I'LL GO BACK AND
TALK ABOUT... I DON'T THINK WE
CAN OPERATE FROM THE BEGINNING
RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE SAYING THE
SOLUTION IS ANOTHER MUSEUM.
I THINK WE ACTUALLY HAVE TO GO
BACK BEYOND THAT AND ASK, WHAT
ARE THE FUNDAMENTALS?
WHAT WAS THE MUSEUM SET UP FOR?
AND SO THE MODEL, THE WESTERN
MODEL OF A MUSEUM MAY NOT BE THE
BEST ANSWER.
I'VE BEEN DOING THIS SERIES WITH
A COLLEAGUE WHO IS A CURATOR,
WITH EMERGING BLACK AUTHORS AND
SCHOLARS, FROM GRANDMOTHERS TO
ESTABLISHED SCHOLARS, OVER THE
LAST WHILE.
WE'VE DONE ABOUT 16 OR 17 OF
THESE.
BUT SO OFTEN THE COMMENT THAT'S
COMING OUT OF THE YOUNGER
ARTISTS AND THE YOUNGER SCHOLARS
SO, FOR EXAMPLE, I MET A YOUNG
WOMAN AT WESTERN THE OTHER DAY,
19 YEARS OLD, EIGHTH GENERATION
BLACK FAMILY FROM DRESDEN, AND
SHE TALKED ABOUT... IT WAS
REALLY BANG-ON.
SHE SAID, LIKE, THERE'S A
CERTAIN POINT WHERE YOU SORT OF
THINK, LIKE, HOW MUCH TWEAKING,
IT'S SLOW TO REWORK AN
INSTITUTION THAT IS SO DEEPLY
FLAWED.
LIKE, DOES IT MAKE SENSE TO JUST
TWEAK THOSE OR DOES IT NOT MAKE
SENSE TO ACTUALLY START AND
BUILD SOMETHING THAT IS MORE
RELEVANT TO THE CULTURE, RIGHT?
AS GORDON SAID, LIKE, I DON'T
THINK IT'S ENOUGH TO SAY WE
SHOULD BUILD A MUSEUM FOR BLACK
CANADIAN CULTURE IF THAT'S NOT
WHAT THE COMMUNITY WANTS, AND IF
THE COMMUNITY DOESN'T WANT THAT,
THAT DOESN'T MEAN THOSE
RESOURCES SHOULDN'T BE AVAILABLE
TO APPROACH IT IN OTHER WAYS.
ON THE ONE HAND, I AGREE, THAT
WE WANT TO ENCOURAGE YOUNG
PEOPLE COMING UP THAT THEY HAVE
A ROLE IN THESE PUBLIC
INSTITUTIONS.
THEY ARE PUBLIC.
SO YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO.
THE PROBLEM WE SEE REPEATEDLY,
AND IT'S PARTICULARLY A PROBLEM
IN ART MUSEUMS, IS THAT IT ISN'T
ACCESSIBLE.
THERE IS A BARRIER THERE.
INSTITUTIONS LIKE THE ART
GALLERY OF ONTARIO, THERE IS A
BARRIER TO BEING PART OF THAT
INSTITUTION'S GOVERNANCE, IF YOU
WANT TO BE A PARTICIPANT IN
THEIR ACQUISITION COMMITTEES AND
PROGRAMS, RIGHT?
THE PEOPLE THAT ACTUALLY DECIDE
WHAT THAT MUSEUM WILL COLLECT,
YOU HAVE TO WRITE A CHEQUE.

Nam says GAIL, WOULD YOU SAY
THAT MUSEUMS ARE DEEPLY FLAWED?

Gail says I THINK THAT,
FIRST OF ALL, IT'S BOTH-AND.
THAT APPLIES TO A LOT OF PEOPLE.
I THINK OUR MAJOR INSTITUTIONS
HAVE TO BOTH OPEN THEIR DOORS,
WHICH THEY'RE STARTING TO DO,
AND THAT'S GREAT.
BUT I THINK... OBVIOUSLY THEY
SHOULD START AN AFRICAN-CANADIAN
COMMUNITY.
THAT'S SILLY.
I DIDN'T SAY THAT.
WHAT THEY NEED TO DO, THOUGH, IS
SUPPORT PEOPLE WHO WANT TO START
IT AND, PLEASE, DON'T SIT THERE
AND PRETEND YOU DON'T KNOW THAT
PEOPLE WANT TO START IT.
THAT'S BEEN GOING ON FOR 30
YEARS, 40 YEARS.
WE HAVE THE BLACK ARTISTS
NETWORK IN TORONTO, WHICH WAS
STARTED BY KAREN CARTER AND A
NUMBER OF OTHER PEOPLE.
SO I DON'T THINK PEOPLE IN THE
FIELD SHOULD BE SAYING, WE DON'T
KNOW IF THEY WANT ONE.
THEY WANT...

Gordon says THAT'S NOT WHAT I SAID.

Gail says WELL, THAT WAS
THE IMPLICATION.
THAT WAS THE IMPLICATION.

Gordon says TO ME, I DON'T THINK THAT WAS
THE IMPLICATION IN MY
PERSPECTIVE.

Gail says IT WASN'T YOURS.

Gordon says NO, FROM
WHAT WAS SAID.
I THINK THE IDEA IS, WHEN WE
LOOK AT THINGS LIKE MUSEUMS,
ESPECIALLY WHEN WE LOOK AT HOW
THEY ARE TRADITIONALLY A
COLLECTION OF OBJECTS, THERE'S
ALSO A REALLY STRONG DESIRE TO
MOVE FORWARD.
AND SO WHEN WE LOOK AT AN IDEA
OF CREATING AN AFRICAN-CANADIAN
MUSEUM, IT'S NOT JUST A MATTER
OF TELLING THE STORIES THAT HAVE
HAPPENED IN THE PAST BUT HOW
WE'RE PRODUCING NEW WORK FOR THE
FUTURE TO SHOW THE DIRECTIONS
THAT WE'RE GOING, AND I THINK
THAT'S WHERE THE WORK REALLY
SHOULD BE COMING IN.

Nam says CAN MUSEUMS MOVE PAST
THOSE COLONIAL GROUPS THAT WE'VE
BEEN TALKING ABOUT?

The caption changes to "Moving forward."

Silvia says I'M HOPEFUL.
I'M AN OPTIMIST.
I WORK IN A MUSEUM BECAUSE I DO
THINK THAT MUSEUMS CAN BE
RELEVANT, CAN ENGAGE DIFFERENT
TYPES OF CONVERSATIONS, WITHOUT
DENYING THE HISTORY.
BUT AT A CERTAIN POINT,
COLLECTIONS THEMSELVES CAN BE
TRANSFORMED, CAN BE RESIGNIFIED,
CAN BECOME A STARTING POINT FOR
DIFFERENT TYPES OF CONVERSATION.
SO IT'S REALLY ALSO FINDING WAYS
TO GO BEYOND SPECIFIC WAYS OF
DISPLAYING OBJECTS.
AND THIS IS SOMETHING THAT, IN
MY CASE, I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO
RE-THINK AND REDO, FOR EXAMPLE,
THE IDEA OF A PERMANENT DISPLAY
AND WHAT ARE THE STORIES.
WE STILL HAVE THESE OLD OBJECTS,
AND THESE OLD OBJECTS ARE
RELEVANT.
IF ANYTHING, "INTO THE HEART OF
AFRICA" BROUGHT TO THE FORE THAT
THESE OBJECTS ARE RELEVANT AND
THE WAY THEY'RE TALKED ABOUT IS
RELEVANT.
SO WHAT ARE THESE DIFFERENT
STORIES THAT WE CAN TELL?
AND IT'S NOT SOMETHING I CAN
DECIDE.
IT'S SOMETHING THAT I WOULD LIKE
TO DECIDE WITH DIFFERENT MEMBERS
OF THE COMMUNITY.
SO THE ROLE OF THE CURATOR THEN
CAN BECOME A BROKER OF
CONVERSATION AND FIND NEW WAYS
IN WHICH THESE MATERIALS THAT
ARE STILL IMPORTANT BECAUSE
PEOPLE COME AND SEE OBJECTS.
OBJECTS DO ELICIT EMOTIONS, DO
ELICIT INTELLECTUAL RESPONSES
THAT MAYBE A SCREEN DOESN'T.
SO I LIKE THE MATERIALITY OF THE
OBJECTS BUT THE STORY AROUND
THEM HAS TO CHANGE.

Gordon says COMING AS
AN ARTIST AS WELL A TEACHER,
IDEALLY OUR SCHOOL BOARDS WILL
START FORMING STRONGER
RELATIONSHIPS WITH MUSEUMS.
IF WE COULD HAVE MORE IMMERSIVE
EXPERIENTIAL TIME IN MUSEUMS,
THERE SHOULD BE MORE SORT OF
PARTNERSHIPS BETWEEN SCHOOLS TO
INCORPORATE INTO THE CURRICULUM
AND TO INCORPORATE IT INTO THEIR
DAILY PRACTICE.
I THINK IT'S EASY TO SAY, HARDER
TO DO, BUT I DO THINK IT'S
SOMETHING THAT WE SHOULD START
LOOKING AT AS A WAY OF TURNING
PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS MORE PUBLIC,
YOU KNOW, REACH OUT TO THE SCHOOLS.

Nam says AND WHAT DO YOU THINK, ANDREW?

Andrew says I AGREE.
I THINK IT IS SOMETHING THAT
DOES ACTUALLY HAPPEN MORE OFTEN
IN SMALLER AND MEDIUM-SIZED
COMMUNITIES BECAUSE ONE CAN
CREATE THESE RELATIONSHIPS, AND
GUELPH, WHERE I'M FROM, I DIDN'T
CREATE IT, IT WAS DONE
HISTORICALLY.
THAT GOES BACK TO SOMETHING GAIL
SAID.
WHO IS ON THE BOARDS?
WE HAVE PEOPLE ON OUR BOARD WHO
ARE TEACHERS, CURRICULUM
ADVISORS, WHO ARE DIRECTLY
ENGAGED, AND SO IT'S NOT JUST
ABOUT RICH BUSINESSPEOPLE,
RIGHT?
AND IT'S ALSO... LIKE, WE HAVE
TO BE CONSCIOUS OF, LIKE, WHEN
THE DECISIONS ARE MADE, THEY ARE
PUBLIC.
I DON'T WANT TO ONCE AGAIN SLAM
AGO.
YOU CAN'T HAVE AN ART GALLERY OF
ONTARIO WITH A WHITE MAN AS THE
PRESIDENT OF ITS BOARD...

Nam says YOU USED TO WORK THERE.

Andrew says AS U.S. WHITE MAN WHO IS A
DIRECTOR AND HIRES A WHITE
BRITISH MAN VIA THE UNITED
STATES TO BE ITS CURATOR IN 2018
IN CANADA.
IF THAT'S YOUR MAKEUP OF THE
PEOPLE WHO ARE AT A MUSEUM...

Nam says WHY NOT?

Andrew says IT'S NOT THAT I'M SAYING
PEOPLE CAN'T COME FROM OUTSIDE
BUT THERE HAS TO BE A BALANCE,
THERE HAS TO BE A MIX.
YOU HAVE TO COME INTO THIS
CONTEXT UNDERSTANDING WHAT THE
CONTEXT IS, WHAT ARE THE IDEAS
THAT ARE GOING ON?
NOT JUST ABOUT THE ART WORLD,
BUT SOCIALLY, POLITICALLY ACROSS
THE COUNTRY, RIGHT?
AND SO WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BE...
INSTITUTIONS ARE POLITICAL.
THEY'RE PUBLIC.
THEREFORE, THEY'RE POLITICAL,
RIGHT?
SO IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE ENGAGED
IN THE POLITICAL DISCOURSE OF A
COUNTRY, YOU HAVE TO BE KIND
OF... YOU HAVE TO ROOT IN THAT.
YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT.
AND WHAT I WOULD CHALLENGE
ANYBODY... ANYBODY, WHETHER YOU
LIVE IN TORONTO AND YOU'RE
LOOKING FOR A JOB IN TORONTO OR
YOU'RE FROM OUTSIDE LOOKING AT
WORK HERE, TO ASK THAT QUESTION,
LIKE I SAID, THAT I TRY TO ASK
MYSELF AND MANY PEOPLE DO.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME TO BE
IN THAT ROLE OR NOT BE IN THAT
ROLE, RIGHT?
SHOULD I BE THE ONE TO COME AT
THIS TIME IN THIS COUNTRY WITH
ALL WE'RE DEALING WITH AND TAKE
THAT POSITION.
AND THE BOARDS WHO ARE DOING THE
HIRING ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY,
THEY HAVE TO ASK THEMSELVES
THAT.
THE ART MUSEUMS ARE THE WORST
FOR BEING DISCONNECTED, RIGHT?
TOO DRIVEN BY THE CONTEMPORARY
ART WORLD AND MONEY AND
COLLECTING.
SO IT'S GOT OUT OF WHACK.
AS I SAID AT THE BEGINNING,
WE'RE ALL HERE TALKING ABOUT
PUBLIC MUSEUMS, AND IT'S PUBLIC...

Nam says WE STARTED THE
CONVERSATION BY ASKING ARE
MUSEUMS STILL RELEVANT.
PROBABLY WRAP UP THE
CONVERSATION BY SAYING WHAT MORE
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MUSEUMS DO
TO STAY RELEVANT?
GAIL?

Gail says I THINK ANDREW
HAS MADE VERY BRAVE POINTS.
I'D LIKE TO PAY TRIBUTE TO THE
FACT THAT IT TAKES COURAGE TO
SAY WHAT HE SAID AND I THINK, BY
THE WAY, HE'S LARGELY QUITE
RIGHT.
I THINK MUSEUMS HAVE TO OPEN
THEMSELVES UP TO THE PUBLIC.
I THINK THE CURATOR, SILVIA HAS
BEEN A STERLING EXAMPLE OF WHAT
CONTEMPORARY CURATESHIP IS.
I ALSO AGREE VERY MUCH WITH WHAT
GORDON SAID.
EXHIBITS DO HAVE TO BE MORE
IMMERSIVE.
IN ONTARIO, WE'RE A VERY RICH
PROVINCE.
YET OUR MUSEUMS ARE PRETTY
BACKWARD WHEN IT COMES TO USING
APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGIES, MAKING
WI-FI AVAILABLE, BEING 24-7
ACCESSIBLE, AND THE KINDS OF
THINGS THAT YOUNG PEOPLE EXPECT.
SO I THINK THAT, AGAIN, ANDREW
MADE A GOOD POINT: WHERE SHOULD
THE NEXT LEVEL OF INVESTMENT BE?
AND HOW CAN THEY EXPAND THE
COLLECTIONS OF THE STORIES?
THESE ARE THE THINGS WE NEED TO DO.

Nam says WE HAVE LESS THAN ONE
MINUTE AND SILVIA I'LL LET YOU
HAVE THE LAST WORD.
WHAT MORE DO MUSEUMS NEED TO DO
TO STAY RELEVANT?

Silvia says REALLY
CONNECT IN A TRUE SENSE WITH
COMMUNITIES, I THINK.
IT'S REALLY ABOUT CREATING
RELATIONSHIPS THAT ARE LONG TERM
AND NOT JUST PROJECT-BASED, AND
REALLY HAVE CONVERSATIONS ALSO
IN TIMES IN WHICH THERE IS NOT A
SPECIFIC EXHIBITION FOCUS TO
REALLY THINK AND RE-THINK WHAT
THE LONG-TERM PRESENCE OF
COLLECTIONS, OBJECTS, AND PUBLIC
ENGAGEMENT CAN BE IN
RELATIONSHIP TO DIFFERENT
THEMES.
AND I THINK... I MEAN, IF
ANYTHING, THE LESSON OF AFRICA
BEING A 5-YEAR PROJECT WAS
REALLY ABOUT HOW IMPORTANT IT IS
TO COME TO THE TABLE AT
DIFFERENT TIMES AND DISCUSS
DIFFERENT THINGS FROM JUST IDEAS
TO SPECIFIC PROJECTS.
AND I THINK THOSE KIND OF
LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS CAN
REALLY CHANGE THE WAY IN WHICH
MUSEUMS SEE THEMSELVES AND
ENGAGE WITH THEIR PUBLIC.

The caption changes to "Producer: Katie O'Connor, @KA_OConnor."

Nam says WELL, THANK YOU ALL
FOR HELPING US TO UNDERSTAND
THIS ISSUE MORE.
GAIL, HOPEFULLY YOU DON'T ENJOY
THE SUN TOO MUCH.

Gail says I'M GOING TO A
LOT OF MUSEUMS.

Nam says HAVE A GREAT TIME IN
BERMUDA, HAMILTON, BERMUDA.
ANDREW, SILVIA, AND GORDON,
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR EXHIBIT.
THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING HERE.

All the guests say THANKS.

Watch: Reinventing Museums