On Tuesday November 8th, 2017 Block Museum’s Ellen Philips Katz Director Lisa Corrin joined New York’s Bard Graduate Center for Museum Conversations Seminar talk entitled “The University Art Museum as a ‘State of Mind.’”
About the Lecture
Since 2012, The Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University has been developing a new model for how a campus art museum “behaves” within the context of a research university. Exhibiting art across time and cultures, its approach involves placing art at the intersection of many fields of study to expand the possibilities for innovation, creativity, and reinterpretation. At the Block experiences of art are a springboard for discussion of issues and ideas in its schools of law, medicine, engineering, communications, journalism and, of course, arts and sciences. With the addition of a curator of public practice, the Block’s reach extends far beyond its galleries through the possibility of embedding artists and engagement programs in any Northwestern campus site—from classrooms to laboratories to practice halls and playing fields. With an emphasis on serving as a campus collaborator and convener, the Block has also become a catalyst for new forms of pedagogy. Finally, in keeping with a university’s core value of critical inquiry, the Block exhibitions and programs take on bold, big world topics and do not shy away from opportunities to generate dialogue between the campus and its surrounding communities. As a result, while the Block is small in size, it is having an outsized impact on teaching, learning, research, and town-gown relations. This talk considered how a campus museum whose identity grows out of the DNA of a particular university and which leverages its braintrust—its faculty, students and its libraries—can help to transform the identity and culture of its parent institution.