Project Diary: Getting hands-on with exhibition making

In the few weeks since my last post, the final year History students from St. Xavier’s and I been busy visiting a diverse range of exhibition spaces and types in Mumbai – from the large, public Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, which curates and showcases contemporary art for all alongside a historic collection, to the community focused Archdiocesan Heritage Museum in Goregaon, Tarq at the cutting edge of the contemporary art gallery space and the new Piramal Museum of Art, housed, excitingly, within a corporate office building. We were incredibly fortunate to meet several young professionals at many of these museums and galleries, people in diverse roles who generously and honestly shared their experiences, roles, views and advice with the students.

These visits were followed by an in-depth presentation and interaction with one of the city’s leading young exhibition designers. In each of these conversations we kept circling back to what is perhaps the most crucial element in exhibition thinking and building – the audience!

Armed with new learnings and ideas, the class and I held a workshop session during which we highlighted the diverse roles and players required to team-build a successful exhibition, matching students to those roles based on their strengths and interests. Each student will be performing a minimum of two roles. In groups, students are now working under research leads to build the content that will help define the exhibition’s storylines in the next phase.

Next week, we meet the collector and scholar whose stamp collection they will be displaying, and hopefully we will have tons of questions for him:)

I’d like end this update with a shout out to the Department of History faculty and Principal of St. Xavier’s College, for their incredible support and encouragement of this intensive, student-led learning project. We need more educators like them.

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