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Bare Identities: A Team Approach

On Friday, July 25, Smith College's Summer Institute in Art Museum Studies (SIAMS) will present a student-organized exhibition titled Bare Identities: Looking Beyond the Human Form. The show will feature 20 works from the Smith College Museum of Art that focus on the human figure.

The exhibition is the culmination of the six-week summer SIAMS program, designed to give students a thorough introduction to the world of art museums and to help them understand the basic functions of these institutions--collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting the art. This highly competitive, international program accepts 15 upper-level undergraduates and new graduates.

View a photo gallery of the installation of the exhibit and the final show.

A Team Approach
For their final project, the students were divided into four teams: curatorial, education, marketing and special events, and design. Each team was responsible for one phase of the exhibit.

Curatorial Team
The curatorial team was responsible for the art-historical content of the exhibition. Guided by a class discussion, the team determined the final theme, the exhibition concepts, a list of objects in the show and an exhibition title. Each SIAMS student wrote one catalogue entry, but the curatorial team established the template for the entries and edited each description for overall consistency.

SIAMS Curatorial Team
Pictured from left to right: Claire Wenngren '08, Grinnell College; Natalie Donghia '08, Sarah Lawrence College; Katie Breen '09, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and Leslie Chang '09, University of Kansas

Education Team
The education team was responsible for conveying information about the art on view to the general visitor. In conjunction with the curatorial team, they first identified their audiences and then drew up an overall educational plan. Working closely with the curatorial and design teams and drawing upon the catalogue entries written by the entire class, the education team produced the actual exhibition labels, a didactic brochure, and a podcast consisting of descriptions of each of the art works displayed. To listen to the podcast, open iTunes and type in bare identities in the search box. Click the subscribe button.

SIAMS Curatorial Team
Pictured from left to right: Holly Harmon, Millsaps College; Emily Monty, Bates College; Lydia Paine, University of Virginia; and mentor Ann Musser, SCMA curator of education.

Marketing and Special Events Team
The primary responsibility of the marketing and special events team was to attract visitors to the exhibition. In consultation with the education team, they devised an overall marketing plan, outlining marketing options at various budget levels for the museum’s consideration. Working with the curatorial and design teams, they developed a press release and composed the invitation to the graduation ceremony/exhibition opening, which was mailed out to SIAMS students’ families and friends. They also wrote an article about the exhibition for the museum’s newsletter. The final graduation/exhibition opening celebration was planned by this team, as well.

SIAMS Curatorial Team
Pictured from left to right:Elizabeth Neville '08, Wellesley College; Jennifer Lee '09, Washington University in St. Louis; Jennifer Mansour '10, Mt. Holyoke College; Emily Corwin, Smith College, and mentor Margi Caplan, membership & marketing director.

Design Team
The design team created the visual appearance of the exhibition and its accompanying materials, including a graphic image for the exhibition overall and the catalogue. They worked closely with the other teams to maintain a consistent look and feel to all materials. The main function of the design team was the installation of the show (in cooperation with the museum’s preparators), including painting, constructing cases, hanging the art work, and lighting the show. View a photo gallery of the installation and the show.

SIAMS Curatorial Team
Pictured from left to right:Morgan Routson '07, Columbus College of Art & Design; Amanda Hill '10, Smith College, Berit Ness '09, Western Washington University; mentor Kelly Holbert, SCMA exhibition coordinator; and Morgan Pratte '10, UMass.
7/24/08  By Judith Roberge
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