By Stacy Hoshino, Hawaii Council for the Humanities.
The European and American Art Galleries of the Honolulu Museum of Art were the featured exhibition to be critiqued. The evening’s format was made up of two sets of panelists: Field Professionals, Jaimey Hamilton Faris, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa, and Neida Bangerter, Gallery Director of the Schaefer International Gallery, at Maui Arts & Cultural Center; and the second set of panelists was the Honolulu Museum of Art Exhibition Team, consisting of Theresa Papanikolas, Curator of European and American Art, Larry Maruya, Installation Designer, and Jared Stone, Art Director. The discussion was moderated by Karen Kosasa, Director of the Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.
With over 50 people in attendance, they listened to thoughtful and provocative critiques on curatorial choices and ways of seeing and learning by the Field Professionals, and the Museum staff responded to their comments. Some questions posed were, “What is the responsibility of the museum to address diversity and public engagement and to take risks to meet the needs of diverse communities?” “How are museums providing other ways of engaging with their displays by offering more than the usual looking and reading experience?” “Can new technologies, such as QR codes, and cell phones, offer a richer visitors experience?” Relevant “nuts and bolts” questions were asked such as, “How did staff choose wall colors?” “Why deep cases were used to display prints and drawings which made it difficult to view the artwork.” Towards the end, the critique was open to the audience for questions while the evening’s discussion continued.
As with the first, the goal of the second HMA Exhibition Critique was to investigate best practices, objectives, and the choices made in creating exhibitions; cultivate critical thinking and engagement of the work we do; allow for a professional critique of an exhibition in a public forum; and encourage attendees to think about the comments and issues raised.