Drexel Unveils ‘Museum of Where We Are’ Exhibition of Student Design History | Now


Many of us believe that the objects or works of art found in a museum go far beyond what we could contribute to the history of our world. But a class at Drexel University aimed to teach students that there is beauty, story, and meaning in everyday objects all around us – and not just that, it was time to learn. that same sense to other students around the world and then put it all on display.

Joseph Larnerd, PhD, Assistant Professor of Design History at Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, began his “The museum from where we are” online project as a way to continue facets of hands-on learning in its course “ARTH 300: The History of Modern Design” after all university courses were postponed in spring 2020 due to the pandemic.

He asked the students to select an object in their current place of residence and, during the term, to conceptualize and research a tag for that object, such as one would find in a museum. The contribution of each student has been published on themuseumofwhereweare.com during the class’s four terms during the pandemic, but during the last fall term, a partnership with the Drexel Collection, the university’s premier art collection, made it possible to The museum where we are to also become a physical exhibit in the Rincliffe Gallery on the Drexel University Campus.

“I started this project in Spring 2020. It was just me and a few Squarespace tutorials. I am so glad to say that this [exhibition] was much more collaborative, ”Larnerd told the crowd at an exhibition opening event held in the gallery on Dec. 10. “… We talk about the history of design as a body of knowledge, but the history of design is also a way of seeing and being in the world – one that helps us become more attentive to the material world and how it shapes us. I am delighted to say that this is just one of the many lessons your work this quarter will teach anyone who visits our exhibit.

A sample of the 10 images and labels of Collarts students included in the Drexel exhibition “Museum from where we are”, which will be on display until March 18.

A sample of the 10 images and labels of Collarts students included in the Drexel exhibition “Museum from where we are”, which will be on display until March 18.

The deep collaboration found within the exhibit doesn’t just include what is rooted within the Drexel community. Students in the fall 2021 iteration of ARTH 300 also worked closely with interior design students from Collarts (Australian College of the Arts) who performed their own exercises and made their own contribution to The museum where we are. Larnerd said this global classroom was created by Drexel’s Office of Global Engagement after receiving training on teaching global engagement and community engagement courses through the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement.

He was then teamed up with Jenni Woods, interior design program coordinator at Collarts, and the two professors discovered how to organize synchronous sessions, collaborate on exhibits, and help students make meaningful connections, all while holding onto account of a half-day time difference.

“We took a slightly different approach because normally my students are working on a project where they study the theory of the sense of place, which is the connection of people to a place through the memory, the emotions and the meaning that we create in. through our connection to certain places, ”explained Woods. . “So my students actually interviewed someone else about a place that was important to them, then selected an object from that place to then write their label. They approach the matter from a slightly different angle than the Drexel students. “

Larnerd said his students had a real desire for this type of collaboration, as evidenced by their attendance at synchronous Sunday night class reunions to align with Woods’ Monday class, even on Halloween.

“One of the things that underpins my own practice as a historian of material culture and as an educator is the belief that objects shape the way we see ourselves, others and the communities to which we. let’s belong. And with that power, they shape the way we think, feel and act, ”Larnerd said. “And that’s something that affects us no matter where we’re from, whether it’s geographic location, class, or socio-economic background, etc. It is therefore the beating heart of any dialogue that will take place between Drexel and Collarts or between two communities.

Shara Saketkhou, a fifth-year product design student who obtained ARTH 300 last fall, poses with her contribution to the “Museum of Where We Are” exhibition - a siddur, or Jewish prayer book.

Shara Saketkhou, a fifth-year product design student who obtained ARTH 300 last fall, poses with her contribution to the “Museum of Where We Are” exhibition – a siddur, or Jewish prayer book.

Shara Saketkhou, a fifth-year product design major who took ARTH 300 last fall, said it was a very exciting course due to its divergence from her history classes in traditional art and the fact that it was a world class room.

“It gave us a good sense of universality and really anchored us in an interesting way,” she said. “These are our objects and this is our experience, and of course we have learned the experience of others through their objects and their stories. It really added such a cool universal aspect where we were able to get an experience from someone across the world.

There are 10 Collarts student images and labels incorporated into the Drexel Where We Are Museum exhibition, which will be on display until March 18. Ten labels of Drexel students and photos of their items were also the subject of an exhibition that has just been erected on the Collarts campus in Melbourne, Australia. Woods said she was happy that the side exhibitions provide a sense of connection with work on two continents – work that she and Larnerd may soon be continuing.

“It’s been a wonderful distraction during a very trying quarter,” Woods said of the World Classroom. “I can tell you that Joseph can testify to the amount of crazy things that have happened in our part of the world in the last three months or so, with earthquakes and riots and all kinds of things. With the lockdown continuing, this has been tricky, but I look forward to doing it in a more relaxed environment, hopefully in the future. “

Larnerd is already working on ways to continue hosting and using the exhibit through March, including a docent program where two students will write and offer tours of the exhibit, as well as potential collaboration with Drexel’s Writers’ Room. Members of the Drexel community can also stop by the gallery on their next stroll through the main building to admire this student work, and being on display means a lot to students like Douglas Ngo, a student from third year in game design and production following the course. this last term.

Curators are already working on ways to continue hosting and using the exhibit through March, including a docent program where two students will write and offer tours of the exhibit, as well as potential collaboration with the Drexel's writers' room.

Curators are already working on ways to continue hosting and using the exhibit through March, including a docent program where two students will write and offer tours of the exhibit, as well as potential collaboration with the Drexel’s writers’ room.

“A lot of times you do something like that with a class, especially with classes in my major, and nothing really comes from your work,” he said. “But having that in a professional show is really great. Everyone that’s here today looking at them, it really means a lot.

Lynn Clouser Waddell, director of The Drexel Collection, was equally delighted on December 10 to have the first grand opening for an exhibition at the Rincliffe Gallery in nearly two years. Although before that could materialize, she made the Collection available to ARTH 300 students to help them educate their labels.

“The goal of the Drexel collection is to be a resource for students and to give them the opportunity to discover what the museum profession is,” she said. “We must not hide it. We are a bit of everything. We are trying to partner with different departments and different colleges. I think this shows the extent of what we can do. … It’s a very different show, but it’s very exciting, and I think having the students with their personal items here allows them to connect to the Collection in a way they wouldn’t. never had before. “

Larnerd said he hoped that the exhibition and the ‘Museum where we are’ as a whole could help students see their own place in design history and that their work would also help make design history. more inclusive.

“[This shows] students that you don’t have to go to a fancy museum with a lot of very expensive items – those belonging to very wealthy people – to encounter meaningful design, ”he said. “You can look around your apartment, you can go to a thrift store, you can go to Target, and these items also have deep stories, meaningful stories. That’s something that means a lot to me, because I know that not everyone is represented in these spaces.

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