In the fall of 2009, I took on the core introductory course, “Arts Organizations in Society,” in the MA program in Arts Administration and Policy at SAIC. The syllabus was to cover key areas: National Cultural Policy, Cultural Economics, Heritage and Tourism, Public Art, issues in Museum Studies, Creative Industries, Digital Heritage and Electronic Policy.
Given my proclivities, I sketched out a diagram of the course content as I assembled it, a first version by hand, subsequent ones in Illustrator. I recounted familiar narratives from museology - the emergence of the museum from budding scientific, archaeological and ethnographic classificatory systems in colonial and domestic political contexts on the one hand, and from the Wunderkammer to contemporary dedicated architectures on the other.
I also constructed a lineage I had not found spelt out in literature, the emergence of what is now designated as 'Creative Industries' from the discoveries and proud and crude parading of both industrial innovation and ethnic difference at world fairs at the same time as the museum emerged, to the economic centrality of innovation and the marketing of diversity today.
The diagram proved so helpful that I decided to use it in the classroom as well. For that, I broke it down into stages, so that I could present it cumulatively, as a Keynote slide show, commenting on each area as it was added in, marking possible collaborations and professional paths.
After this first use, the diagram evolved and grew, as it continues to do. It was presented to other groups of students and to colleagues on several occasions. With each conversation areas were discovered that needed to be included – the growing phenomenon of private museums, for example - and relationships were identified that could be clarified by spatial shifts.
From the classroom and other SAIC venues, the art world diagram migrated into the museum. Pre-printed on a whiteboard, it was one of five narratives at hand in an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, “Without You I Am Nothing,” in March 2011. The curator invited artists to spend time in the galleries to interact with audiences. For a week, I gave daily noon time talks and was available for individual conversations during afternoons. Armed with markers and sheets of magnetic vinyl that could be cut to size, the diagrams were marked up and modified on the spot. The diagram will stay a work in progress.
The Video was recorded May 25, 2011, at SAIC. The Flash file directly below can be manipulated. The bottom image shows the prepared whiteboard used to present the diagram as part of a lecture performance series at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.