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.








Visiting Artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

Very pleased to announce that Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas will be joining us at MAF and leading the creation of a participatory mural!

Merging Chinese brush techniques learned under the tutelage of a Cantonese master during his travels, Yahgulanaas carries this instinctive and dynamic gesture to his self-taught practice, developing the innovative form he calls Haida Manga.

photo credit: Andrew Querner

Deadline for proposals

Reminder that the deadline to submit session proposals is March 1st. Please send it to

Please provide the following information in your email text, no attachment:
1) Your name, title, home institution (if applicable), and email address
2) Your proposed session format (see below)
3) The title of your session
4) Additional session participants if a group submission (title and email address)
5) A description of your session (max 150 words). Specific requirements for each format below.
6) What you hope to achieve in presenting/participating in this session (1-3 sentences)
7) What you believe this session can contribute to museum futures (1-3 sentences)

Please note that some workshops and pre-circulated paper sessions will be by registration only due to limited capacity. All other sessions are open to all conference participants. For example, Roundtable or Pecha Kucha sessions will have several presenters who discuss their work, and the audience attending the session is invited to listen and ask questions or give feedback.


Roundtable – Group submission
   Description: Each person presents for 5 to 7 minutes about a common topic related to the conference themes. Often there is a moderator who provides questions for the panel to respond to. Audience engagement is encouraged. Example topics include: decolonizing museology, learning from mistakes, digital museology, teaching museum anthropology, emergent media, rethinking collections, artists in museums, curatorial brainstorming, etc.
   Best for: Engaging discussion around a theme or topic.
Submission requirement: Describe your topic and a list of two to five panelists.

Pecha Kucha – Individual Submission
   Description: A talk that is based on 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide, no text (about 7 minutes). Lightning rounds of 4 or 5 Pecha Kucha-style presentations will be grouped thematically with plenty of time for discussion.
   Best for: Getting feedback or sparking discussion about a project, idea, or research.
Submission requirement: Describe the content of your presentation.

Pre-Circulated Papers Session – Group or individual submission
Description: Closed session to presenters. 5 to 8 participants. All participants will circulate and read each other’s papers prior to the conference and bring comments and feedback to the session. During the session, each participant will make a two to five minute presentation related to their paper and invite group discussion. Individual submissions will be grouped together by conference organizers.
Best for: Preparing a written work for publication. Individuals who may want to publish together or get extended feedback on their written work from others in their field.
   Submission requirement: Group submission: include a brief description of the content of each paper and current status towards completion. Individual submission: 100-150 word description and current status towards completion. Include intended publication venue, if known.

Workshop – Group or Individual Submission
   Description: An open or closed session, depending on capacity. There should be a product at the end (an exhibit proposal, sample labels, a grant proposal, an outline of a white paper, a syllabi or reading list, compiled feedback, etc.). Presentation format is open and can include small-group work, materials (presenter must provide), etc.
Best for: Building skills, sharing knowledge, working closely with colleagues, producing something you can walk away with.
   Submission requirement: Explain the content and aim of the workshop, how you will organize the time, how you will present to or teach the participants, the minimum and maximum number of participants possible for the workshop, and what will be produced in the end. Be sure to include what kind of space and technology do you need for your workshop.

Problem Solving Session – Group or Individual Submission
Description: The session starts with a presentation about the problem, and invites participants to weigh in. This session is aimed to bring people together around a particular problem or challenge that you seek to address. As a group, you provide discussion and models for an audience. As an individual submission, you seek an audience/practitioners who can think through the issue with you. The aim is to produce a list of action items at the close of the session. This can be achieved in the group as a whole or through small group work.
Best for: Brainstorming solutions or approaches to a problem in curating, teaching, scholarship, research, etc. You can use this kind of session to refine position papers into manifestos, tool-kits, action plans, etc.
Submission requirement: The session title should be the problem or question that you would like to tackle. Describe how you will present the problem, how you will organize the time, and how you will structure the participation of audience. If an individual submission, include in your description what category of specialist you believe would be helpful to address it (for example, curators who have worked with Oceanic collections, anthropologists who have experience in teaching material culture in the classroom, etc.).

Pop Up Exhibit/Poster/Digital Project/Multimedia Presentation– Individual Submission
Description: A poster or multimedia projection that presents a proposed display, exhibit, or existing project, or sparks a themed conversation, etc. If an exhibit, for example, consider including a clear thesis, target audience identification, exhibit goals, main points around the theme, supporting images, proposed programming associated with the exhibition, and/or proposed forms of visitor engagement. Space for these projects will be allotted based on availability and need. For a technology-rich space available for use see: CAPSL facilities and equipment.
Best for: Presenting an exhibit, draft exhibit, project, or other visual material for feedback.
Submission requirement: Describe the title and content of the work. Indicate physical space and technological requirements. For example, if a projection does it need audio speakers? If a poster, what are the dimensions?

Birds of a Feather/Themed Lunch Table – Individual Submission
   Description: There will be some tables marked with identified themes when we gather to eat to encourage informal talks around a common topic of interest. There is no presentation, simply a facilitator who will lead introductions and offer some prepared questions to help move the conversation forward.
   Best for: Brainstorming, introductions, meeting new people in the field, networking. Please note: a “career advice” themed table(s) is already scheduled.
   Submission requirement: Describe your proposed theme.

Film Screening – Group or Individual submission
   Description: Film screening and moderated Q&A. The subject of the film should relate in some way to museums and the other themes of conference. Film shorts are encouraged.
   Best for: Getting feedback and sharing your or others’ work.
   Submission requirement: Describe the film, including length, genre, and content, as well as your role in making the film (if applicable), and how it fits into the conference themes. If additional people involved in making the film will attend, explain their roles and how they will participate in the session.

We look forward to receiving your submissions and seeing in what new directions you will lead our field during our first conference. We couldn’t do this without your support and participation.

Keynote Speaker Wayne Modest

We’re thrilled to be hosting Wayne Modest — Head of the Research Center for Material Culture at Amsterdam’s Tropenmuseum, Museum Volkenkunde, and Africa Museum — as keynote speaker at Museum Anthropology Futures, to catalyze a conversation around core themes and stakes of the conference.

Read more about Dr. Modest!