Friday Heirloom 108: Museum Magnetism ENGLISH/ITALIANO

Friday Heirloom 108: Museum Magnetism ENGLISH/ITALIANO

Every single evidence of the past (…) questions me: who am I with respect to this humanity? Do I still have the same respect for life and nature? The same tenacity and the same “hunger”? (Lorenzo Nigro, Gerico)

My home country of Italy, also known as a museum goer’s Mecca, looks after thousands of museums and sites of historical relevance. When it comes to how it does it, a (huge) set of norms and regulations allow our museums to operate (or, at best, survive).

Yes, as we enter 2020, as a country we can’t still seem to face our biggest fear: how do we best open our cultural sites to the people? Or, better, how do we invite people to our cultural sites in the most genuine yet culturally relevant way?

Most museums in the United States are magnetic. When I was there from 2012 to 2016 I couldn’t get enough of them. They often offered plenty of activities for everyone and I could spend an entire day between their galleries, libraries, cafés, terraces and gardens. In the U.S., when it comes to museums, I believe one would rather pay a higher admission fee for a show that is well presented and well marketed than spend less on something mediocre. (I wish this principle was applicable in my country, too!)

Some French museums are also magnetic. Although with fewer private resources, they look healthy (at least financially) and they market themselves quite well. I am specifically referring to most Parisian museums.

In other words, in both cases marketing is involved. Marketing works magically when you’re trying to get people through your doors as you’re really presenting your museum to a specific (possibly wide) group of people.

More is better when is done well. Wouldn’t you agree? But too much is never good.

When, for instance, you focus on your appearance to the world more than you do on your programming, there’s a problem. When your people do not represent your visitors, there’s another deeper problem. When you can’t stand on your feet, you close your doors for good, as it will soon happen for the Newseum in Washington D.C. (and it sometimes happens everywhere). Every day museums big and small in all parts of the world have to face the harsh reality and decide it’s not doable anymore. Crude, hard, sad; true.

Anyways, yes, some museums are failing at marketing. Others don’t market themselves at all in Italy: the resources won’t allow it, bureaucracy won’t allow it, the people, themselves, will not allow it, many of them being stuck in old ways of doing things because that’s-how-it’s-always-been-done and if it-has-worked-so-far-it-will-always-work.

There’s little motivation to try new things, fail, do better. Our museums are shy temples of beauty, and in order to thrive, stay relevant and live to serve the public they must take risks. They must FAIL sometimes! It’s imperative.

So while American museums, British museums, Canadian museums are diving deeper into topics like climate change, personal wellbeing, human rights, Italian museums are sleeping their beauty away.

Just recently I witnessed a debate on engagement on Twitter. What is “engagement” and why is it worth spending time on when it comes to the museum field?

As @artlust puts it in her recent blog,

“Experience and engagement are a bit linked. A good experience is usually engaging. Engaging is a word that overlaps welcoming, interesting, surprising, and audience-appropriate. Engaging and experience are absolutely in the eye of the beholder if you will. Death metal will not be engaging to me even if performed in the loveliest place on the planet by the loveliest people with the greatest visitor experience strategies. We all have things that no effort will sell. So, engagement is about connecting some people.”

And how do we make sure we engage the public? By staying magnetic. Museum magnetism will keep museums afloat. It’s the ability to capture people’s attention through charisma and personality. It’s the skill of making bold statements, taking relevant positions, being un-neutral. (Good luck with that.)

TESTO ITALIANO

Friday Heirloom 108: Magnetismo Museale

Ogni reperto trovato dall’archeologo (…) mi interroga: chi sono io rispetto a questa umanità? Ho ancora lo stesso rispetto per la vita e la natura? La stessa tenacia e la stessa “fame”? (Lorenzo Nigro, Gerico)

La mia patria, l’Italia, si occupa di migliaia di musei e siti di interesse storico. Per quanto riguarda il “come” lo faccia, una (vasta) serie di norme e regolamenti consente a molti dei nostri musei di operare (o, nel migliore dei casi, sopravvivere).

Sì, sebbene quasi nel 2020, come paese non riusciamo ancora ad affrontare la nostra più grande paura: come possiamo aprire al meglio i nostri siti culturali alla gente? O meglio, come possiamo portare la gente nei nostri siti culturali nel modo più genuino ma più culturalmente rilevante possibile?

La maggior parte dei musei negli Stati Uniti sono magnetici. Quando ero lì dal 2012 al 2016 non ne avevo mai abbastanza. Spesso i musei offrivano diverse attività, per tutti, e passavo intere giornate tra gallerie, biblioteche, bar, terrazze e giardini. Negli Stati Uniti, quando si tratta di musei, credo che uno preferirebbe pagare una prezzo di ammissione più alto per una mostra ben presentata e ben commercializzata piuttosto che spendere meno per qualcosa di mediocre. (Vorrei che questo principio fosse applicabile anche nel mio paese!)

Anche alcuni musei francesi sono magnetici. Sebbene con meno risorse private, sembrano in salute (almeno finanziariamente) e si commercializzano abbastanza bene. Mi riferisco in particolare alla maggior parte dei musei parigini.

In altre parole, in entrambi i casi è coinvolto il marketing. Esso funziona magicamente quando stai cercando di far passare la gente attraverso le tue porte, presentando davvero il tuo museo ad un gruppo specifico (possibilmente ampio) di persone.

“Più” è “meglio” quando si fa bene. Non siete d’accordo? Ma il “troppo” non è mai bene.

Quando, ad esempio, ci si concentra sul proprio aspetto al mondo più che sui programmi educativi, c’è un problema. Quando la comunità museale non rappresenta i visitatori del museo, c’è un altro, più profondo, problema. Quando non si riesce a stare in piedi si chiudono le porte per sempre, come accadrà presto per il Newseum di Washington D.C. (e talvolta succede ovunque). Ogni giorno musei grandi e piccoli in tutte le parti del mondo devono affrontare la dura realtà e decidere che non è più possibile andare avanti. Cruda, dura, triste verità.

Ad ogni modo, sì, alcuni musei falliscono nel marketing. Altri non fanno per nulla marketing, invece: le risorse non lo permettono, la burocrazia non lo consente, le persone stesse lo impediscono, essendo molte di esse ferme ai vecchi modi di fare le cose perché “è sempre stato fatto in questo modo” e “se ha funzionato fino ad ora funzionerà sempre”.

C’è poca motivazione a provare cose nuove, a sbagliare e a fare di meglio. I nostri musei sono timidi templi di bellezza e per prosperare, essere rilevanti ed operare servendo il pubblico devono correre dei rischi. Devono SBAGLIARE a volte! È imperativo.

Quindi mentre i musei americani, i musei britannici, i musei canadesi stanno approfondendo e trattando argomenti come il cambiamento climatico, il benessere personale e i diritti umani, i musei italiani dormono nella loro bellezza.

Di recente ho assistito a un dibattito sull’engagement su Twitter. Che cos’è il “coinvolgimento” e perché vale la pena parlarne in campo museale?

Come dice @artlust nel suo recente post,

“Esperienza e coinvolgimento sono un po’ collegati. Una buona esperienza è di solito coinvolgente. Coinvolgere è una parola che si sovrappone ad accogliente, interessante, sorprendente e adatto al pubblico. Coinvolgimento ed esperienza sono assolutamente negli occhi di chi guarda. Il death metal non mi coinvolgerà anche se eseguito nel posto più bello del pianeta dalle persone più brave con le migliori strategie di esperienza dei visitatori. Tutti abbiamo cose che possiamo “vendere” senz’alcuno sforzo. Quindi, il coinvolgimento riguarda il legame che si crea con/fra alcune persone.”

E come possiamo assicurarci di “coinvolgere” il pubblico? Restando magnetici. Il magnetismo museale terrà a galla i musei. È la capacità di catturare l’attenzione delle persone attraverso carisma e personalità. È la capacità di fare affermazioni audaci, assumere posizioni pertinenti, essere neutrali. (Buona fortuna.)

Friday Heirloom 107: A Museum Is (Unlearning and “Unsummering” in Rome) ENGLISH/ITALIANO

Friday Heirloom 107: A Museum Is (Unlearning and “Unsummering” in Rome) ENGLISH/ITALIANO

There’s no inspiration. There’s just work.” (Tahar Ben Jelloun)

As far as I’m concerned, it’s still summer.

While picking out my outfit this morning, I realized I couldn’t let go of my yellow flowered jumpsuit which I bought back in July while on vacation in Sicily. Has it really been that long? Where did it all go? The fun, the nights out, the sea? And, if summer is a state of mind, are we all more or less “summered”?

It is said that we get all laid back in summer. Summer makes us do things that we wouldn’t do any other time of the year. So yes, this summer I have felt ecstatic and heartbroken, just like some of you. But the best thing this summer has left me with is Rome.

Ristorante “La Dispensa”

R-O-M-A. And yes, I know I thought I had found myself somewhere else. I know I’ve gotten lost so many times far from home that I thought I’d never come back. But here I am now, in Rome. Because all one needs is Rome (and a glass of wine, possibly.)

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Enoteca Trimani – dal 1821

What does all this have to do with museums? You may be wondering. Well, when it comes to museums and heritage, Rome is the pulsing heart of the Western world. As we know, the city has been extremely arrogant over the centuries and its inhabitants, although friendly and warm, still think they have it all, in Rome. The supremacy of Rome is still real, in some of its tiny alleys and busy plazas, but in all honesty the city is one of the warmest I’ve ever seen. You’re home everywhere in Rome because Rome is everywhere! And if you love it, Rome will love you back incessantly.

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Altare della Patria (il Vittoriano) – Balcony
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Altare della Patria (il Vittoriano)

In Rome I often think about how much as a white person I have to unlearn and how much as someone from the West I owe, rightfully and unrightfully, to my ancestors.

And, as the museum community struggles with “defining” museums in the 21st century, I still see some Romans hold on to the belief that a man is a man and woman is a woman, and that their identities and their behaviors are what they are and they are not interchangeable.

Villa Adriana

And then I think, wow. We still have a long way to go and before getting to the big things we should start from the little things, embracing the tiniest positive habits, first.

Same thing with the museum definition. Let’s start with “a museum IS”, before getting to define what is that it is. The “bird by bird” (Anne Lamott) method is something I learned to accept over my life and career and it suits me well.

So if you ask me, a museum simply is. It’s there for itself, to care for the collections it holds, but above all it is there for the people it serves through those collections.

Let’s not try to make museums too many things as they will end up being nothing and lose meaning. A museum simply is. Let’s not fight for wordy definitions but for action.

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Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali

And I will keep on doing that myself, while unlearning and “unsummering” in Rome.

TESTO ITALIANO

Friday Heirloom 107: Un Museo E’ (Mentre Disimparo e “Mi Disiestato” a Roma)

“Non esiste l’ispirazione. Esiste solo il lavoro.” (Tahar Ben Jelloun)

Per quanto mi riguarda, è ancora estate.
Stamattina, mentre stavo scegliendo i vestiti, mi son resa conto che non potevo ignorare la mia tuta a fiori gialli comprata a luglio durante una vacanza in Sicilia. È passato davvero così tanto tempo? Dov’è fuggito? Dove sono andati il divertimento, le nottate in giro, il mare? E se l’estate è uno stato d’animo, siamo tutti più o meno “estati”?
Si dice che siamo tutti più rilassati in estate. L’estate ci fa fare cose che non faremmo in nessun altro momento dell’anno. Quindi sì, questa estate mi sono sentita tanto estatica quanto infranta, proprio come alcuni di voi. Ma la cosa migliore che quest’estate mi ha lasciato è Roma.
R-O-M-A. E sì, lo so che pensavo di aver trovato me stessa altrove. So di essermi persa così tante volte lontana da casa che pensavo di non tornare mai più. Ma eccomi adesso, a Roma. Perché tutto ciò di cui abbiamo bisogno è Roma (e un bicchiere di vino, possibilmente)!
Cosa c’entra tutto ciò con i musei? Vi starete chiedendo. Bene, quando si tratta di musei e patrimonio, Roma è il cuore pulsante del mondo occidentale. Come sappiamo, la città è stata estremamente arrogante nel corso dei secoli e i suoi abitanti, sebbene amichevoli e calorosi, pensano ancora di avere tutto, a Roma. La supremazia di Roma è ancora reale, in alcuni dei suoi vicoli stretti e piazze affollate, ma in tutta onestà la città è una delle più calorose che abbia mai visto. Ci si sente a casa ovunque a Roma perché Roma è ovunque! E se l’ami, Roma ti amerà incessantemente.
A Roma penso spesso a quanto, come persona bianca, devo disimparare e a quanto devo, come occidentale, giustamente e ingiustamente, ai miei antenati.
E, mentre la comunità museale lotta per “definire” i musei nel 21° secolo, io vedo ancora alcuni romani aggrapparsi alla convinzione che un uomo è un uomo e una donna è una donna, e che le loro identità, la loro persona ed i loro comportamenti sono ciò che sono e non sono intercambiabili.
E poi penso, wow. Abbiamo ancora molta strada da fare e prima di arrivare alle grandi cose dovremmo iniziare dalle piccole cose, abbracciando prima le più piccole abitudini positive.
Stessa cosa con la definizione di “museo”. Cominciamo con “un museo È”, prima di arrivare a definire cos’è. Il metodo “bird by bird” (di Anne Lamott), passo dopo passo, è qualcosa che ho imparato ad accettare nella mia vita e carriera, e mi sta bene.
Quindi, per quel che mi riguarda, un museo semplicemente è. È lì per se stesso, per prendersi cura delle collezioni che detiene, ma soprattutto è lì per le persone che serve attraverso quelle collezioni.
Evitiamo di cercare di rendere i musei troppe cose perché finiranno per non essere niente e perdere di significato. Un museo semplicemente è. Non combattiamo per definizioni prolisse ma per l’azione.
E continuerò a farlo anche da sola, mentre disimparo e “mi disiestato” a Roma.

Friday Heirloom 106: Museo Colonial + Museo Santa Clara, Bogotá

Friday Heirloom 106: Museo Colonial + Museo Santa Clara, Bogotá

Museums for good: what are you about, if not participation, inclusion and accessibility?

When it comes to searching for museums with an impact on their communities, on a worldwide scale, one cannot escape the wonders of two colossal Bogotá-based institutions, namely Museo Colonial and Museo Santa Clara.

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Museo Colonial - Mono de la Pila

Museo Colonial

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Museo Santa Clara - concierto

Museo Santa Clara

I first learned about these two during this year’s American Alliance of Museums‘ meeting in New Orleans. As I was documenting the Getty fellows’ reunions, I got the chance to chat with Viviana, who came all the way from Colombia to be there with us. We exchanged numbers (as we all did among the Getty fellows) and they quickly introduced me to Juan, Press Manager at the museums.

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Thank you Viviana for showing us your museum catalogs!

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What a crew! #AAM2019

On a hot, late-June afternoon (at least in the very South of Italy), Juan and I Skyped. Juan is one of those gentle and charismatic leaders who recently joined the museum field and whose voice reminded me of the beauty of Latin America. Between a flawless English and a few Spanish idioms, they painted a social picture of Museo Colonial and Museo Santa Clara for me.

Among the different accessibility and inclusion programs and projects the museums implement to make more people enjoy the colonial heritage on a yearly basis, the following five really stood out to me:

1.

A ceramic workshop for people with visual disabilities. This is a brand new activity and a brilliant one, creating an inclusive museum environment for the public with visual impairments, who, during four sessions of two hours each, is given the chance to know the collections and develop manual skills to perform their own works. The workshops are managed by the Rehabilitation Center for Blind Adults, also known in Spanish as CRAC, which is a non-profit (private) foundation dedicated to the rehabilitation of people with visual disabilities.

#HandsOn with CRAC (1)

#HandsOn with CRAC (1)

A few photos from the workshop 

2.

Workshops for women. Joining the commemoration of the National Day for the Dignity of Women Victims of Sexual Violence in the context of the armed conflict, on May 25th, the Santa Clara Museum organizes a series of workshops to raise awareness on the dominance that institutions have had on women throughout history. The workshops are supported by Fundación Tejidos del Viento.

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A few photos from the workshop 

3.

Workshop for children “One Humanity”. Through this workshop, the museums seek to nurture the ethical values ​​and spirituality of children and young people. Organized by Learning to Live Together volunteers and developed by the Interfaith Council for Ethical Education for Children (in close collaboration with UNESCO and UNICEF), the program seeks to contribute to a healthy physical, mental, spiritual and moral development of all children.

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A few photos from the workshop 

4.

Live Culinary ExchangeThe objective of this workshop is to create a space for dialogue among people of diverse backgrounds. Through traditional knowledge related to cooking and agriculture, the museums’ aim is to create an experience in which citizens and chefs interact by sharing and discovering knowledge on cultivation and cooking, all in a community and collaborative space.

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Intercambio culinario 01

A few photos from the exchange

5.

Participatory construction of the garden-nursery in the Colonial Museum. This is an initiative developed with Casa B through which the community will be given the opportunity to learn how to build a garden-nursery in their own homes. Its aim is to support the Colonial Museum in creating new channels of relation with the public by activating new contents, thus giving the museums a renewed aura.

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A few shots from the garden-nursery construction workshop

After learning from Viviana and Juan about these wonderful, community-centered programs and initiatives ongoing at Museo Colonial and Museo Santa Clara, I am more and more aware of the power of museums in helping people navigate hard times. Being born and raised in Italy, a country rich in heritage but whose art institutions are (still) poor in social power, I realize how impactful museums can be when it comes to fostering a culture of unity and comprehension in their surrounding territories.

What do you all think? I would love to hear your thoughts, and please feel free to share any information on great community projects that are currently being implemented at your local museums or institutions.

For more information on Museo Colonial and Museo Santa Clara, feel free to check out their websites here.

Friday Heirloom 105: My Experience as a Social Media Journalist at #AAM2019 – American Alliance of Museums

Friday Heirloom 105: My Experience as a Social Media Journalist at #AAM2019 – American Alliance of Museums

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At this year’s Annual Meeting, Social Media Journalist Angela Gala embedded with scholarship recipients who came from around the world to exchange ideas about museum work. In this photo, Angela and some of the participants enjoy the energy of New Orleans.

After moving back to Europe from America in 2016, I had never been able to come visit until last month. That’s when I flew all the way to New Orleans to attend this year’s Annual Meeting of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and document it through my Instagram and Twitter accounts (@imamusaller).

Much to my surprise, this year I was selected as one of AAM’s Social Media Journalists (SMJs). Since I was assigned an international focus, I also had the wonderful opportunity to join some of the meetings for the Getty International Program, through which The Getty Foundation supports about twenty international art museum professionals to come to the Annual Meeting.

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The Getty participants reunite before lunch!

Here’s a quick summary of my experience in New Orleans. I put together some of the notes and tweets I wrote during my time there, with a focus on my experience with the Getty International Program and a few photos and captions from all the other sessions I attended (reach out to me on social media if you have any questions on them)! I hope this will pique your interest and, above all, inspire you to attend next year in San Francisco. It’s an enormous event, with tons of sessions and other activities to amaze you and make you feel at home wherever you are.

DAY 1

Getty Program Orientation

I must be very excited; I’m about half an hour early! Luckily Linda Norris, fellow SMJ, is already here as well. This morning we’ll meet the Getty program participants, who will share object stories from their home countries. How fun!

A lamp, a necklace, a booklet, and a catalog are some of the objects from around the world that the participants have shared at the meeting. Soledad from Argentina brought an inverted map, where the South is the North and vice-versa, because it’s important to look at things differently! Great one. Viviana from Colombia brought us some books representing the collections of the Museo Santa Clara and the Museo Colonial de Bogotá. Elena from Puerto Rico brought a business card holder. They sound driven and passionate about telling the other side of a story, the one we rarely hear in museums.

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Registration completed! The process was smooth and the conference clearly outlined.

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Thank you, Soledad, for showing us your world in a different light!

The meeting ends with facilitator Bob Beatty from Lyndhurst Group presenting some American- style networking tips, such as: If you don’t know what to say, stand near people who are talking and just listen; and, my favorite tip: When there’s a lull, ask a question. I enjoyed my time here, particularly the excitement each worldwide story brought with it.

AAM Scholarship and Getty International Program Speed Networking

This was incredibly well-organized and fun! I met people from all over the world, like Alana from the Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas and Tatjana from the Muzej Vojvodine in Novi Sad, Serbia, whom I later also encountered during the Getty meetings.

Some of the Getty participants and I end the day with sliders, beer, and jazz.

DAY 2

Getty Program Breakfast

Starting off the day at the Getty Program Breakfast. I’m excited and honored to be surrounded by such inspiring humans! Most of the speeches focus on DEAI issues; there’s a need to tell a more full and complete story of this country in museums, to raise the bar and demand that, for instance, museum boards start looking like the communities they serve.

Museums as Catalysts for Empathy-Building and Social Change

This session was very interesting, with a lot of examples from the real world! I loved, for instance, the case of the Woodland Park Zoo, where different animals are considered through their different needs and wants and therefore are referred to with specific names and pronouns.

Opening Session & Awards

Here’s where we learned about the beauty of an alliance: no one is ever alone. From diversity comes richness and museums can help unpack hierarchy while completing and correcting narratives.

How the Museum Field Can Be More Inclusive of the Transgender Community

This meeting left us with precious tips to make our world more inclusive of the transgender community. The more explicit one can be, the better, considering how trans communities have always traditionally been excluded, even from the larger LGBTQ groups.

Debriefing Meeting

The Getty participants share reflections and perspectives. They sound very happy to be here at AAM, having lunch all together and interacting with the speakers! Many of them enjoyed the speed networking session and seeing each other’s objects and learning their stories. The use of apps and technology in museums and historic houses was also new to many of them, as well as the idea that museums can deal with environmental and inclusion problems.

Opening Party: Light Up the Night at City Park

Hosted by the New Orleans Museum of Art, The New Orleans Botanical Garden, and Louisiana Children’s Museum

DAY 3

Creating Inclusive Spaces by Breaking Language Barriers

This session was especially relevant to me as an ESL speaker. Some of the takeaways from different museum representatives were: consider all possible text needs, budget for more translations than you actually think you need, focus on quality over quantity, and consider a digital audience.

Building Relevant Public and Educational Programs Using an Equity Lens

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Standing by a light installation by Keith Sonier at NOMA

How can we be equitable in our programming? Some museums, like the Seattle Art Museum, are answering this question by being responsive to current events and by building strong partnerships with local institutions.

Debriefing Meeting

Like yesterday, the scholars share reflections and perspectives. They enjoyed the dancing and drumming performance held during the day. Some of them learned about what it means to be “of, by and for all,” according to Nina Simon. The party at the New Orleans Museum of Art was awesome: they all enjoyed the collection as well as seeing the food unite people. Some of them also learned about millennials with Museum Hack and how museums can help people destress. Many of them seem to have ideas to bring back to their home countries and institutions.

Closing Party: Parade of Museums

Hosted by The National WWII Museum, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the Contemporary Arts Center

DAY 4

Keynote, Jose Antonio Vargas

I absolutely loved this keynote session. Mr. Vargas is witty and brilliant! All in all, we have to decide who we are and force the world to deal with that, not with their idea of us. Simply powerful.

Museums with No Walls Are the Future

This was a thirty-minute session where we learned how you can make a museum out of any environment; the key is to create relevant community projects, workshops, and art programs!

AAM Getty International Program Wrap-Up Luncheon

This is my last formal meeting at the conference. We’re having lunch and exchanging presents with the Getty participants. I receive a hand-painted postcard from India. Some of the participants say they loved all the networking, inspiration, and hope that many sessions left them with. In the next month, they promise to email all the people they’ve met at the conference and to do research on the museums they’ve visited. With the help of some of AAM’s guidelines, they say they will talk with their institutions about facing current museum issues. A few others also say they will look for more similar conferences in their home countries. In six months from now, they all hope to incorporate what they’ve learned in their daily lives.

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In conversation with Adriana Varejão’s Polvo Portraits

The meeting ends by highlighting our common love for New Orleans, and with our infinite gratitude.

After a siesta and a shower, we decide to take the ferry for a quick hike in the city’s green areas before hitting the bars on Bourbon Street. I have so much to say about the past few days that I’m speechless. I love how fun and free-spirited many people are in the United States. It’s so easy to make friends, and this is a trait I haven’t encountered anywhere else.

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An afternoon by the river with the Getty participants

All in all, attending this conference was a terrific experience. Among other things, it allowed me to increase the amount of museum professionals in my network, both on and off social media. Hopefully, after going through all my new contacts, I’ll be able to reach out and collaborate with some of these people I met from around the world.

Friday Heirloom 104: Exhibition “Les Tondos des Chaumes”, Château Les Chaumes, Bordeaux

Friday Heirloom 104: Exhibition “Les Tondos des Chaumes”, Château Les Chaumes, Bordeaux

Check out the Highlights of June here

Long life to art, wine and rosemary.

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Château Les Chaumes: a love for rosemary

Summer. That time of the year where the rosés inebriate you and the smell of fresh-cut rosemary from your grandma’s garden gives you life…

Except one thing: the photo up here was taken last March, by the end of winter and I was not at granny’s but at Château Les Chaumes, in the north-east of Bordeaux, France.

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A visit to the cellar: to be in love with Château Les Chaumes

Aside from the gentleness of Mme Parmentier (and her husband), owner of the Château and the visionary behind the newly-created exhibition “Les Tondos des Chaumes” which I will soon explain further, what I remember best about this visit is the breeze on my skin by the garden overlooking the vineyards.

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Mme Parmentier’s kitchen (with a view): wine tasting

What is also special about the property is that it seems to be deeply connected with its surrounding vibrant artistic community, as the following photos clearly show.

A Château OF/BY/FOR ALL.

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Above: view of the “education room” and two artsy oak barrels

As Anne explained to me, this area of the property (the education room) is dedicated to private and public workshops on barrel-making as well as wine-tasting sessions. As we went through Les Chaumes, I learned how oak barrels are made (too long of a process for the purpose of this blog) but see photos below!

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The wine production at Les Chaumes is mostly made of Merlot (60%), Cabernet (30%) and Malbec (10%). The wine ages for 12 months in the oak barrels you just saw and is bottled at the castle.

As for the taste, the red wines of Château Les Chaumes are balanced and easy to enjoy with food. I was even gifted with a bottle of brown wine, wine + chocolate: a wine-lover’s dream! You can purchase any of their bottles from the property’s website.

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Some of the wines at Château Les Chaumes: tasty and affordable. I want them all!

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We ended the meeting with lunch at a local restaurant (in photo: fois gras & Sauternes)

And now on to the purpose of this article, the exhibition “Les Tondos des Chaumes” (The Tondos at Chaumes): it’s about 20 tondos made by 20 local artists on barrel bottoms which will be shown at the property over the summer (from July 6th to August 18th). The event is organized by the volunteers of the AOC33 Association while Château Les Chaumes is the host.

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Exhibition logo realized by one of the painters, Thierry Bisch 

The 20 participants express themselves in a wide range of way (painting, sculpture, mosaic etc.) and there’s great diversity considered the context of Bordeaux: women and men from 14 to 70 years, between recognized artists and newcomers, all united to offer high-quality creations for public enjoyment.

The artists are: Thierry Bisch, who is also the artistic advisor; Etienne Bisch; Jofo; Xavier Jambon; Aurore Lephilipponat; Franck Espagnet; Babylon Mozaïc / Emilie BaudraisNathalie Azémar; David Ferreira; Pauline G; Max Mitau; Rene Damême; Franck Cavadore; Ozan Virgule; Manuel Cancel; Louis Barbe; Alben; Pier Régnier; Caroline Seck; Isabelle Sig.

Here are the first two tondos that were made for the exhibition (one by Max Mitau and the other by Jofo):

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So, what else? If you feel like spending the summer between the fascinating worlds of art and wine, don’t miss this marvelous exhibition in Bordeaux! For info, you’re welcome to check out the event’s Facebook page here.

Happy summer!