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'MuseLab' Gallery Opens December 4

Posted Dec. 1, 2013

The School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) unveiled MuseLab, its new museum studies collaborative space and gallery, on Dec. 4 as part of the grand opening celebration for its newly renovated space.

MuseLab “is a creative and collaborative space for thinking, doing, and learning about museal things. A place where the muses can inspire us, stimulate us, make us think about all things museal, and a place for collaboration and creativity. It is meant for students, faculty and practitioners to conduct research, try out exhibits and programs, do course projects, teach workshops, and generally entertain and educate the local community (MuseLab brochure).”

MuseLab workroomThe idea for MuseLab originated with the creation of the museum studies specialization as part of the Master of Library and Information Science. SLIS Professor Carolyn S. Brodie, Ph.D., Associate Professor Greg W. Byerly, Ph.D., and Associate Professor Kiersten F. Latham, Ph.D., wrote a grant proposal and received a three-year grant from The Reinberger Foundation for the creation of MuseLab.

“The concept for a place like this came out of building the museum studies specialization,” Latham said. “In 2010, Greg Byerly and I started working on the specialization, and in fall 2011 we accepted the first students in museum studies. Nearly every class has been filled since, so we clearly have people who are interested. The idea for getting a grant to build a space where people can actually do the work is coming out of that.”

MuseLab is open to SLIS faculty and students, but the school also encourages applications from CCI colleagues, students and faculty from other units, community partners, museums, and other institutions that incorporate museality into their work. The space has three components: the wall gallery, the main gallery, and a workspace area. The space can be used to conduct research, prototype an exhibit, or hold a program or any other potential project, but an application is required.

“The concept of museality is very open; you can apply it to many things because what you’re exploring is the representation of something,” Latham said. “There is no content area that’s eliminated. It can be art, science, quirky weird things, anything; there are no limits. I want people to think about what it means when an exhibit comes into a museum space where it’s shown because that’s ultimately what museality is about.”

MuseLab is a very unique space for SLIS and the university to have, said Latham.

“I hope that MuseLab becomes the kind of space that we can do the things I want us to do − collaborate, think outside the box, do interesting things and come up with ideas that people in other places can use,” she said. “I’d really like to see things get disseminated out of here. I want to see research happen and people talking about the research, so that it can be shared with other people across the nation. I want this space to be for the university, community and nation.”

Two exhibits will debut in MuseLab in December: “The Power of Pictures: 75 years of the Caldecott Award” in the wall gallery and “For the Love of Religion in the main gallery.

Emily O’Connor, a library and information science graduate student in the museum studies program, is doing the creation, development, and installation of “For the Love of Religion” for her Culminating Experience project. 

emily oconnor exhibit“The focus of the exhibit is the expression of love, through religion, as a quality of Divinity,” O’Connor said. “Four religions of influence in the United States − Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam − will be featured in the exhibit, including a look at their interpretations of Divinity and some of their religious practices, particularly as they relate to the concept of love that is embedded within each of their teachings. Visitors will be encouraged to compare and contrast the viewpoints presented with their own and each others' via a physical discussion board in the space, which will be carried over into a virtual blog for further commentary and communication during and after the course of the exhibit.”

Both exhibits will be celebrated at the grand opening event for new SLIS facilities on Wednesday, Dec. 4, from 4 to 7 p.m. Reservations are requested.

“Everything a student does in school doesn’t have to be written in text form,” Latham said. “We can do things that are just as rigorous but more physical. That’s what I hope can happen in MuseLab; that students who want to use alternate forms of communication understand that there’s really something wonderful about expressing yourself this way.”

For more information about MuseLab, visit http://www.kent.edu/slis/about/locations/muselab.cfm.


 -- By Nicole Gennarelli