Can Museums Be Brave? - Henry Kim, Aga Khan Museum; Ross Laird, Ph.D.;Cheryl Blackman, City of Toronto, Moderator
As museums shift from being thought of as conventional, conservative, and unwavering, they are embracing the challenge of tackling complex social issues in Canada and worldwide. Museums as memory institutions are called upon to memorialize and interpret dark heritage, or sensitive and tragic events, and to contribute to civic engagement and social change. In addressing provocative topics, museums interpret history and the present with objects (as “witnesses” of the event) and art. Control of that message is a great responsibility, with the accompanying potential and fear of opening people’s wounds when considering tragedy. How should the design and delivery of exhibitions and programs be responsive to this challenge? How do museums respectfully collaborate with affected communities? If the job of museums in the wake of trauma is to teach and heal, how do we find the wisdom to end a visit on a thoughtful or uplifting note?