Curating Participation: A Public Dialogue: Arts + Design Wednesdays at BAMPFA

Lecture | September 20 | 12-1:30 p.m. |  Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

 Peter Samis, Associate Curator, Interpretation, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Kelly McKinley, Deputy Director, Oakland Museum of California; Laura E. Pérez, Professor of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley

 Arts + Design

In this public dialogue, we will explore how museums and other arts organizations are responding to the call for ‘participation’ in our current moment by placing the ‘visitor’ at the center of the museum experience. How does the ‘participatory turn’ change the role of the curator? How does participation change the divisions of labor within the organization itself? When does participation deepen the experience of a visitor and when does it create new distractions?

Peter Samis, Associate Curator of Interpretation at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, has spent his career fostering meaningful connections between artworks and audiences. A longtime leader in the field of interpretive media, Samis was the art historian/content expert on the first CD-ROM about modern art, and then led SFMOMA’s pioneering efforts through successive waves of technological innovations, producing a succession of award-winning websites, podcasts, and videos. In recent years, he has focused on larger questions of museum interpretation, both analog and digital. Samis’s new book Creating the Visitor-Centered Museum, co-authored with Mimi Michaelson, was published this year by Routledge and is contributing to emergent dialogues in the museum field.

Laura E. Pérez is an Associate Professor at the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is also a core faculty member of the doctoral program in Performance Studies and an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Women’s Studies and the Center for Latin American Studies. She curated UC Berkeley’s first and only US Latina/o Performance Art series, and has published in numerous anthologies on feminism, Chicana/o and hemispheric decolonial cultures, Chicana/o religiosity, journals, and art exhibition catalogs.

Kelly McKinley is Deputy Director at the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA). She previously served as the Executive Director, Education and Public Programming at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), where she conceived a new visitor-centered approach to interpretation, collection presentation, and exhibition development, in addition to focusing on community engagement. She also recently oversaw the design, development, and launch of AGO’s new Weston Family Learning Centre, a hub for community engagement and educational programming.