The Museum as a Research Hub

03.05.2020
The Museum as a Research Hub

Issue 03 (summer 2021)

 

Edited by The Garage Journal in consultation with Katya Inozemtseva (Garage Museum of Contemporary Art)

 

With the remit and scope of museum practice changing rapidly in the twenty-first century, this special issue interrogates the role of the museum as a research hub. Recognizing that research has underpinned museum practice for over a century, we invite submissions that address the following concerns: How is research integrated into museums' future strategies? How do collaborations among researchers, artists, and curators work? What are the key applications of practice-based research? How does publishing contribute to the research culture within museums? We also encourage submissions that share and discuss best practice examples. 

 

With the culture sector slowly emerging from the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, museums are charged with the task to re-shape their activities, paying special attention to research as an active area of engagement. The post-pandemic museum is critical of discourses that had dominated the culture sector before the crisis, including an emerging critique of ‘overfocus on visitor numbers’ and ‘overproduction of art’. The new slow, reflective museum invites a polemic about long-term investment in research, not short-cycled frenzy of exhibitions and events. The use of research in the museum may appear to be a new strategy for institutions to cope with the crisis. 

 

However, it is essential that research has shaped museum practices for decades. Indeed, museums are meant to be places of reflection on contemporaneity and at the same time present a variety of perspectives that satisfy all societal groups. Museums that focus on research seem to offer a democratization of museum practices, moving away from the ‘mausoleum’ paradigm with a greater emphasis on a new relationship with audiences. Yet, some would argue that museums fall victim to the spectacle of entertainment industry, with research being just another form of commercialization of knowledge in the system of the attention economy.

 

This special issue of The Garage Journal recognizes that nowadays, the museum exists across many sites, in multiple times, and through a myriad of interactions. No longer just a gallery filled with objects and accompanying notes, the museum is involved in the politics of what is to be visible in the twenty-first century. We understand visibility as a form of presence in the public discourse, a form of knowing and remembering. The museum recognizes visibility as a power to build associations, networks, and communities. The special issue considers critically how these new powers are invested in curatorial practices and how they are invoked in the contemporary and historical settings. We put the visitors at the center of our consideration, including their participation in the process of re-defining the purpose and scope of research in the museum. 

 

The questions that this special issue will ask include (but are not limited to): 

 

• What are the changes that the museum’s research culture has seen over the past decades? How are they transforming the museum’s role in society?

• How exactly do museums, especially art museums, carry out research?

• How can we theorize the museum as research a hub?

• How do different kinds of museums—the art museum, the historical museum, the memory museum, and the museum of contemporaneity—respond to recent theoretical advances?

• What makes research in the museum ‘practice-based research’?

• How do museums make research accessible?

• What are the best practices in terms of co-researching with artists, audiences, and others involved in museums?

• How can research in museums contribute to social innovation and change?

• And finally, what potential does re-conceptualizing the museum as a research hub provide?

 

We invite contributions from curators and other museum staff engaging in research, academics studying these practices, as well as professionals who have both scholarly and practical experience in this area. Contributions can be made in English, Russian or German in the form of articles, visual essays, data essays, interviews, and archival materials. The Garage Journal does not publish unsolicited artworks. 

 

To submit a proposal, please provide the following information in English: 

 

• Contribution type (e.g., article, visual essay, data essay, interview, etc.) 

• Language of contribution (English, German or Russian) 

• Title of contribution 

• Abstract (300 words) 

• Key words that indicate the focus of the contribution (e.g., practice-based research, museum collaboration, audiences) 

• Biographical information, including a short biographical statement of maximum 100 words stating research interests and relevant professional experience, and a list of no more than 10 publications relevant to the themes of the special issue 

 

Proposals for contributions are due on October 20, 2020. Send all the information requested above—as a single PDF document—to the GJ@garagemca.org.  

 

 

 

Founded in 2019, The Garage Journal is an independent interdisciplinary platform advancing critical discussions about contemporary art, culture and museum practice in the Russian and global contexts. It publishes empirical, theoretical and speculative research in a variety of genres, celebrating innovative ways to present research. Fully peer-reviewed, it provides a source book of ideas for an international audience.