Hosted by Tate Modern, NACCA’s fifteen PhD researchers met for their third training event which focused on the theme ‘professional skills for museums & the heritage sector’ from January 16th to 20th 2017.
The winterschool’s programme was tailored to introduce the researchers to the complexities of professional communication and collaboration. Designed to encourage reflection on perceptions of museum practices, all week the group considered how these are changed or still need to change. A focal point of the programme was the question whether the way in which conservation is perceived and communicated within a contemporary art museum needs to be changed and how this can be accomplished.
The group, on the very first day of the training event, had their first chance to present their work in progress to the public in a flash presentation followed by a poster presentation. A sold out event held at Tate Exchange, the presentation day provided an exciting opportunity for the NACCA researchers to mingle with and discuss their research ideas with professionals and members of the public.
The programme of the following days, curated by Tate’s Head of Collection Care Research, Pip Laurenson, introduced the group to an overview of the various avenues of communication within a museum. In a most thoughtful way, Tate’s staff members Anna Cutler, Judith Comyn, Jennifer Mundy, Christopher Griffin, Susanna Worth, Chloe Julius, Rachel Barker, Bronwyn Orsmby, Maria Kennedy and Matthew Gale all shared their expertise with the researchers. They devised interactive workshops on writing on contemporary art, tools for raising the profile of their research, object-based research, and transdisciplinary communication and collaboration. Other instructors lectured on exhibiting conservation (Sanneke Stigter, UVA and Ella Hendriks, Van Gogh Museum), analysing the professional force-fields in research (Julia Noordegraaf, UVA, with Pip Laurenson and Haidy Geismar, UCL), the parallels between the restoration of architecture and contemporary art (Maria Margarita Segarra Lagunes, Università degli Studi Roma Tre), and what it means to be a collector and keeper in the 21st century (Jill Sterrett, SFMOMA). Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, Director of the Maxxi Arte in Rome, lectured on documentation versus re-enactment in performance art. NYU’s Glenn Wharton granted NACCA’s researchers and supervisors a preview and a discussion of his upcoming Reader for Contemporary Art Conservation.
Also, the group was privileged to a partake in a unique experience, the performance Tony Conrad: Fifty Five Years On the Infinite Plain at The Tanks, Tate Modern, and a follow-up discussion with Tate’s team exploring ways to transition this piece into the collection.
This exciting programme, set in the stunning Switch House, provided the PhD researchers with great opportunities to exchange ideas with experienced colleagues and imminent scholars of the field.