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Performing Arts/Dance in Museums

  • 1.  Performing Arts/Dance in Museums

    Posted 08-12-2019 05:44 PM
    Hi all,
    I am working on a thesis project addressing how museums incorporate the performing arts into their museum space. I have already reached out to some of the more established institutions which incorporate performances on a regular basis, but would love to get a sense of how smaller spaces use the temporal arts to bring their collections and exhibits to life. Although performances in a separate theater space will also be considered when they directly relate to the museum's collection, I would like to focus on performance (dance specifically) within the gallery space, noting any success/failures and lessons learned along the way. Thank you ahead of time to anyone willing to share! You are welcome to post here or email me directly at lak892@g.harvard.edu.

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    Lauren King
    Museum Studies, Harvard Extension School - Harvard University
    Cambridge MA
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  • 2.  RE: Performing Arts/Dance in Museums

    Posted 08-13-2019 05:51 AM
    Lauren,

    I'm a lighting designer and museum lighting professional who has worked with a number of performing artists in museum setting.  As institutions go, three come to mind as very positive experiences. You should look to the Warhol Musem in Pittsburgh, the ICA in Portland ME and the Contemporary Arts Musem in Birmingham AB.  I'm happy to share my personal experiences at any of these, but can say that of the many spaces I have worked, these represent the best.

    Frank DenDanto III
    Nordoluce Design
    917 848 8957

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    Frank DenDanto
    Nordoluce
    Bloomingburg NY
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  • 3.  RE: Performing Arts/Dance in Museums

    Posted 08-13-2019 02:28 PM
    Hi, Lauren, 

    At the Anchorage Museum here in Alaska we regularly host performing arts in our gallery and open spaces, especially on free admission days and First Fridays (open late and free 6-9). These popular days often lend themselves to partnerships with performance groups of all mediums, and the frequency of these dance and music offerings has only grown in the last few years. We even host musicians inside our giant elevator as an alternative performance space. Happy to speak more directly on our programming, outreach and artist inclusion. 

    Cheers,
    Rebecca Pottebaum
    Public Programs and Audience Engagement Manager, Anchorage Museum

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    Rebecca Pottebaum
    Programs Manager
    Anchorage Museum
    Anchorage AK
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  • 4.  RE: Performing Arts/Dance in Museums

    Posted 08-13-2019 02:30 PM
    Hi Lauren, 

    I'm the program manager for the New Orleans Jazz Museum. While we focus on music, naturally dance follows. We have a performance venue on our third floor which hosts daily performances. In addition to this, we have begun to incorporate performances in our exhibit spaces. We have had drum circles in our exhibit "Drumsville: Evolution of the New Orleans Beat" and currently a dance floor in our exhibit on Louis Prima. Both have has their successes and failures but we are currently very focused on creative active spaces in our exhibits. If this something you'd find helpful for your thesis, I'm happy to discuss further.


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    Caitlin Sheehan
    Jazz Museum
    Louisiana State Museum
    New Orleans LA
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  • 5.  RE: Performing Arts/Dance in Museums

    Posted 08-14-2019 09:43 AM
    Edited by Catherine Hughes 08-14-2019 09:47 AM
    Lauren,

    Sounds like you may have reached out to the International Museum Theatre Alliance membership (www.imtal-us.org), but if you haven't you can send an inquiry through IMTAL. Last year at the IMTAL conference in LA, we had the opportunity to experience a wonderful dance piece at the Skirball Cultural Center in their main exhibition gallery. They do various performing arts in their spaces. Additionally, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis is hosting the IMTAL conference next week Aug 22-25, which will highlight many different performing arts programming in museums.

    Happy to communicate with you directly.

    Catherine Hughes

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  • 6.  RE: Performing Arts/Dance in Museums

    Posted 08-14-2019 01:13 PM
    Hi Lauren,

    At the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College we have a long history of incorporating the performing arts in our programming. In fact, opening night at the museum in October 2000 included students performing in Nick Cave Soundsuits. We have long-standing and very productive collaborations with many academic departments, including music, theater and dance departments.

    Most recently, this past year the museum and theater department presented Off the Shelf, a site-specific theatrical examination of the Tang's collection: https://tang.skidmore.edu/exhibitions/258-the-shelf/off-the-shelf

    Also, we presented a career survey of the dance group STREB EXTREME ACTION, in which they turned a gallery into a rehearsal, performance, and exhibition space showing Elizabeth Streb's notebooks to the public for the first time as well as archival videos: https://tang.skidmore.edu/exhibitions/260-streb-action

    Also last year:

    Let me know if you'd like more information, including photos.

    Warm regards,

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    Michael Janairo
    Head of Communications and Strategic Initiatives
    Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery
    Saratoga Springs NY
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  • 7.  RE: Performing Arts/Dance in Museums

    Posted 08-15-2019 10:02 AM
    Hi Lauren,

    At the National Building Museum, we've worked with performing artists in numerous ways. Our Creative in Residence programming aims to amplify our mission through the arts.  I would be happy to share more if this is relevant to your work.

    --

    Theresa Esterlund

    Vice President for Education

    testerlund@nbm.org | 202.272.2448 ext. 3400

    National Building Museum | 401 F Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20001 | www.nbm.org | Facebook, Twitter, Instagram



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    Theresa Esterlund
    Vice President for Education
    National Building Museum
    Washington DC
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  • 8.  RE: Performing Arts/Dance in Museums

    Posted 08-16-2019 03:42 PM
    Hi All, 

    I started my post as Curatorial Director of Live Arts recently at the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ. The Morris Museum has a 312 seat theatre that for many years produced plays and presented jazz but never really connected to the mission, collection, or special exhibitions. My charge here was to create a new series, which we titled Live Arts at the Morris Museum, that creates exciting dialogue between the gallery and the stage. While most of our performances will take place in the theatre, I have also planned some that will take place in the gallery spaces, using exhibitions as the setting for a site-specific work. Our entire first season start in September 2019 and can be see here: morrismuseum.org/livearts but I will also highlight a few that may be of particular interest to your research below. 

    Note: the Museum also recently changed its mission statement and tagline to highlight our explorations in Art, Sound, and Motion.

    1. Our upcoming exhibition, Aerosol: Grafitti | Street Art | New Jersey | Now features several NJ based street artists making work directly on the walls of the Museum's Main Gallery. I am working with the dance company, 10 Hairy Legs to create a site-specific dance installation that utilizes this exhibition as its set. The choreographer Doug Elkins, a former b-boy breakdancer who utilizes breakdance and street dance in his physical vocabulary previously choreographed a short piece for this company and is working on an expanded version created for this exhibition/gallery. This piece, Trouble Will Find Me: Remixed features a soundtrack of diverse artists from classical to mo-town, to contemporary pop and all the songs will be on shuffle creating a different, and spontaneous experience for each of the three performances. This is a non-seated event that encourages people to move around during the performance and to visit the cash bar that will remain open throughout the evening. After the performance concludes the choreographer will continue on as DJ and the hope is to have a fun dance party/bar like atmosphere. 

    2. The second production on our first season is The Other Mozart, an award-winning play about Mozart's forgotten sister who was a prodigious composer and performer in her own right. This was a hit of experimental theatre off-broadway and has been touring the world to great acclaim. The score was written by Nathan Davis and Phyllis Chen. Phyllis Chen is very much on the downtown scene in New York and composes primarily for toy piano and music box. Our Museum's signature collection is of automata and automatic musical instruments so this is a great way to connect to that in a way that feels very edgy and contemporary. 

    3. Later in the season we bring Phyllis Chen back to perform her multidisciplinary piece, Lighting the Dark which features some custom music boxes that are live streamed to the screen behind the artist so the audience can see them very large. She is also creating a new piece for us, Automatoys, which is a collaboration with the community- people are invited to draw on custom scrolls which she will then punch into miniature compositions for her new custom music boxes. When performed an audience member may see and hear their drawn contribution as part of the larger piece. 

    We have several other productions that relate to our mission in various ways which can be seen on our website. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions! good luck with your research- I look forward to following the thread!

    Brett Wellman Messenger
    Curatorial Director of Live Arts
    Morris Museum
    bmessenger@morrismuseum.org

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    Brett Messenger
    Curatorial Director of Live Arts
    Morris Museum
    Morristown NJ
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  • 9.  RE: Performing Arts/Dance in Museums

    Posted 08-19-2019 09:40 AM
    I would be interested to know how institutions balance performative interactions with art on exhibition against the safety of the objects - and specifically in galleries containing loaned works. Are parameters set - and if so, what and by whom? How is crowd-control handled? Are living artists ever consulted about performances including or in response to their work? Are lenders notified? This is a new and exciting approach to art on exhibition but there are challenges I'm curious about.




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    Melanie Harwood
    Senior Registrar
    Baltimore Museum of Art
    Baltimore MD
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  • 10.  RE: Performing Arts/Dance in Museums

    Posted 08-19-2019 11:59 AM
    Well most of our performances take place in the theatre so we get around those sorts of issues. Our upcoming production that takes place in the gallery is easy as the exhibition is about graffiti and street art and 12 artists will be painting directly on the walls of our gallery. Artists were aware from the beginning and there was excitement about the idea. Certainly if we were planning a production that would use the gallery with an exhibition that was more object based we would have to carefully consider how to ensure the safety of the objects and control the crowd more.

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    Brett Messenger
    Curatorial Director of Live Arts
    Morris Museum
    Morristown NJ
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  • 11.  RE: Performing Arts/Dance in Museums

    Posted 08-19-2019 02:36 PM

    Hi Lauren!

    I help out with the Culture & Performing Arts department at Boston Children's Museum. We host a permanent exhibit called KidStage, wherein kids can view and take part in several live performances. Featuring professional actors, the shows themselves are essentially a My First Theatre Experience; short (approximately 15 minutes), sweet, and with many opportunities for kids to have fun and build confidence...especially since audience participation is required for all of them! As a bonus, kids also get a taste for basic theatre vocabulary and audience etiquette, and do so in a space tailored to their needs.

    Alongside KidStage, we work with numerous performing artists throughout the city, hailing from a wide range of cultures and mediums. In all of these, we aim to encourage kids to actively participate in the stories of others, as well as obtain a greater awareness of themselves and their own capabilities. Most recently, the Museum hosted the Third Annual Boston Youth Dance Festival, where seven different dance companies from across Boston had the chance to perform, lead workshops, and allow visitors more insight on the city's vibrant and growing dance community. Some instructors even had the opportunity to exchange contact info for future collaborations. 

    Thanks for reaching out! Please let me know if I can be of any more assistance. 

    Corinne Manning
    Culture & Performing Arts Specialist
    Boston Children's Museum
    Manning@bostonchildrensmuseum.org




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    Corinne Manning
    Specialist VE
    Boston Children's Museum
    Boston MA
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