Curatorial Dreaming workshop

The Curatorial Dreaming workshop is scheduled for Thursday May 25th, 2-5 pm. Advance registration is required as it is limited to 8 people. Applications are due April 17 – see details below.

Curatorial Dreaming Workshop: Call for Participants

Advance Registration is required (details below).  Space is limited.

Time: Thursday May 25th 2:00-5:00 pm, Place: TBA

This Curatorial Dreaming workshop will bring together a small group of conference participants to conceptualize imagined “exhibitionary moments” in response to the “Museum Anthropology Futures” conference themes.  In particular, applicants will be asked to orient their work toward one of the following: A) exhibition experiments that engage anthropological research; and B) exhibitions as sites for grappling with pressing social concerns.

This workshop is ideal for participants who want to experiment with ways of imagining their research as an exhibition. It is also an opportunity for museum professionals to design “hot spot” exhibition interventions that address contemporary concerns.  These can be imagined in relation to specific institutions, as well as vernacular sites of public culture.

Prior to the workshop, each participant will be asked to submit an object, image, story, or sound that is central to the issue they wish to address.  The workshop will begin with each person introducing themselves as well as their “artefact.”  Following this, we will think and “play” with these materials in a participatory, creative, task-oriented setting.

A key goal of the workshop is to give participants a creative space for experimentation that they may not have in their regular professional setting.

Participants will have opportunities to work individually as well as in small groups, experimenting with different ways of framing and presenting their materials.

Who should participate in this workshop?

For scholars and students, a Curatorial Dreaming workshop offers the challenge of translating research and theory into an engaging visual, and sometimes auditory, exhibition.  Finding a key message, expressing the ambiguity and complexity that are the hallmark of scholarship, choosing specific images, objects and spaces, considering a target audience – such tasks are humbling and emboldening for academics.

For museum professionals, a Curatorial Dreaming workshop is an excellent opportunity to innovate and think creatively, to develop an exhibitionary moment without financial, bureaucratic, political, institutional, or infrastructure constraints.

About the Workshop Facilitator

Dr. Shelley Ruth Butler teaches, researches, consults, and writes about museums and heritage sites that are situated in contexts of social and economic inequality, cultural diversity, and changing cultural politics in Canada and South Africa.  She is inspired by exhibitions and interventions shaped by social justice, multiple perspectives, and individual and social well-being.  She is co-editor of Curatorial Dreams: Critics Imagine Exhibitions (MQUP 2016) and author of the widely taught museum ethnography Contested Representations: Revisiting Into the Heart of Africa (University of Toronto Press 2011).   Dr. Butler has worked with a variety of community advocacy and social service organizations, addressing issues such as immigrant and refugee women and work, and literacy and disability rights.  She offers Curatorial Dreaming workshops to museum professionals, researchers, students, and community groups.

To apply for this workshop, please respond with a few sentences to the following questions:

  1. Where are you currently based? Why are you interested in participating in this workshop?


  1. In reading the workshop description, did a particular object, image, story or space come to mind? Why do you think this is?


  1. Would you be able to submit your image (or object, anecdote, observation) to the workshop facilitator two weeks before the conference (Friday May 12)?


Space is limited to 8 people.  An effort will be made to bring together a group that is diverse in terms of skills and backgrounds.  Potential resonance between different projects will also be considered.  Please email your response to: by Monday April 17, 2017.  Notifications of acceptance will go out Wednesday April 19th, 2017.