[ISEA2022] Panel: Cecelia Cmielewski, Deborah Lawler-Dormer & Deborah Stevenson — The Collaborative Museum

Panel Statement 

Macba, Convent Dels Àngels, June 14

Keywords: Cultural mapping, Art science research collaborations, Cultural infrastructure, Contemporary Museums

Our longitudinal research is undertaking a real-time study of how a new museum can become a leading collaborative museum and foster connections with its locality as both a place and a community.

Flagship cultural institutions such as museums have long been significant sites of cultural exchange and the urban experience. But as the number of museums worldwide increases, there has been a considerable change not only in their mission and orientation, but also in the contribution they are expected to make to the social, urban and cultural agenda of localities as they are routinely called on to be key elements of local place-making and community cultural development strategies. Increasingly, the contemporary museum must foster connections with its locality as both a place and a community, which requires an approach that is imaginative, collaborative and locally specific.

Thus, to be successful, new cultural infrastructure developments must be embedded in their physical and social environments from the outset. Despite this necessity, there has been no systematic research into what such embeddedness might entail, nor any guidance as to the measures of success. What is needed, therefore, is an engaged and interactive analysis of the ways in which a major cultural facility is founded in dialogue with its local communities. Our research project offers a unique opportunity to examine, and contribute to, the process of embedding a new museum into physical and community space in real time.

This panel will present the first stages of a longitudinal research project to undertake a detailed study of the innovative ways in which a new museum seeks to become a leading collaborative museum. The discussion will present an approach that simultaneously probes what the development means for the diverse communities of the museums location and examines the collaborative initiatives and projects instigated by the museum and the community. Three methods of the thematic strands of the research project – cultural infrastructure, cultural mapping and research collaborations with arts, science and technology industries.

  • Dr Cecelia Cmielewski is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University (WSU), Australia, with over thirty years’ experience in the cultural sector. She is the author of Creative Frictions: Arts Leadership, Policy and Practice in Multicultural Australia (2021, ANU Press). Cecelia’s research interests address inclusion in the creative sectors with a focus on the relationship between creative production and multicultural policies. Her current research role is on the ARC funded The Collaborative Museum – Embedding Culture in the City (2021-2025). Cecelia held Senior Policy and Project Management roles at the Australia Council, the Federal Government’s arts agency between 1998 and 2011.
  • Dr Deborah Lawler-Dormer is the Research Manager at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney, Austrilia. Deborah’s research expertise is in transdisciplinary art, science and technology projects. Her current research is on curatorial methodologies informed by posthumanist, feminist and new materialist thinking. Through her doctoral research practice, she developed a biomimetic avatar in collaboration with the Centre for Animate Technologies and explored biomimesis through curating an international exhibition, a virtual reality environment and an interactive installation. She has also investigated photographic, media art and film practices. Deborah is interested in deep collaborative research projects between the museum, industry and the tertiary sector.
  • Professor Deborah Stevenson, ICS, Western Sydney University (Australia). Honorary Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Science, University of Bath (UK) [source: https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/ics/people/researchers/deborah_stevenson]

Acknowledgement: The presenters acknowledge their project colleagues in the development of the text for ARC LP200301481 The Collaborative Museum: Embedding Cultural Infrastructure in the City: Chief Investigators Distinguished Professor Ien Ang, Professor Deborah Stevenson and Dr Malini Sur of the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University.