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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Museum weekend

Today and tomorrow, Grinnell alumni who work in museum professions will be visiting the campus as part of the program of events for the Socially Responsive Museum weekend which is co-hosted by the Faulconer Gallery and the Office of Alumni Relations and Development.

The Socially Responsive Museum weekend was planned not only as a celebration of the recent 15th anniversary of the Faulconer Gallery, but also as a way to host an educational weekend featuring alumni working in museums.

“It’s actually a wonderful liberal arts opportunity because so many Grinnellians can use a wide range of their skills in their museum work,” said Lesley Wright, Director of the Faulconer Gallery.

Wright decided on the event theme “Socially Responsive Museum” by looking at the challenges of contemporary museums and the civic engagement attitude of the College.

“‘Socially Responsive Museum’ grows out of what I see going on in chat rooms and things going on in the museum world, where people are really trying to figure out, ‘How do we take this institution that people think is all about the past, and make it a helpful place for debate about issues in the present?’” Wright said. “[We’re] looking at Grinnell’s ethos of social responsibility and seeing how can those two come together and have a meaningful conversation around museums.”

So far, 21 alumni have confirmed they will be attending, with class years ranging from 1965 to 2014. Two of the alumni featured in the weekend’s events include Roberta Smith ’69, an art critic for The New York Times and lecturer on contemporary art, and Dr. Michael W. Hager ’65, the President and CEO of the San Diego Natural History Museum. Both are serving as the program’s keynote speakers.

Alumni attendees of the event will also be engaged in three diverse panels, all featuring Grinnell alumni.

“One is about technology, and how museums are using technology to their benefit or detriment. One is about how museums are attempting to remain relevant. And one is about how museums can increase diversity among their staff and among their audience,” Wright explained.

Many of the alumni in attendance will also be giving back to students in the form of an internship fair in Bucksbaum on Saturday, where students can learn more about each alumnus’ specific career in the museum field.

Wright invites students to partake in all of the events, including the keynote speeches, panels and even meals with the guests so that students can get to know the visiting alumni and learn more about careers with museums.

“I hope we can do something like this again in the future, because it’s a networking opportunity for the alumni as well as the students,” she said.

The first keynote presentation featuring Roberta Smith will take place today at 4:15 p.m. in the Faulconer Gallery.

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