Walker Art Center
The Walker’s curator of audience engagement sees museums as evolving to being “more about experiences than objects. A museum should be a cultural commons.”
Schultz, who began her Walker career 21 years ago in fundraising, was part of the impetus behind Open Field, the Walker’s popular outdoor gathering spot that hosts jam-packed events like the Rock the Garden summer concerts.
“We need town squares of creativity,” she said. “We’re all curating our lives on Pinterest. Our exchanges may be transparent and dynamic, but even as we’re more public online, public space itself is in decline. Culture is something we make together, creating reciprocal relationships. Art is a medium for knowing both ourselves and one another.”
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Hired in 2008 as the MIA’s first-ever curator of contemporary art, Armstrong has brought new ideas and encouraged suggestions from colleagues through the museum’s CAMP program (Center for Alternative Museum Practice).
One idea that came out of CAMP was ReMixes, which juxtapose one artwork with another, seemingly incongruous piece, to illustrate connections that otherwise wouldn’t be obvious. One ReMix to be installed in May places “Dressing Down,” a fancy gown critiquing colonialism by artist Yinka Shonibare, in the opulent, rococo French-hotel period room, to suggest reflection upon whose backs such excess was built.
“If museums are to matter in the 21st century, we need to mine the past to give meaning to the present, and the future,” Armstrong said. “Emphasis on preservation won’t change, but the idea is to increase access.”
KATE SUTTON-JOHNSON & LIZA PRYOR
Science Museum of Minnesota
Sutton-Johnson (left), an exhibit designer, and Pryor, a senior exhibit developer, aren’t curators per se, but they often work as a team, as they did for “Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed,” opening June 21.
Sutton-Johnson, a Macalester grad whose training is in theater design, approaches each exhibit space very much as if she were the set designer of a play: “The lighting levels, the placement of objects, everything is designed to allow visitors to relate as personally as possible to what they’re seeing.”
When she’s not dreaming “of what it would be like to find a live giant squid,” Pryor, on staff since 1994, oversees Science Buzz, a project involving both exhibits and online resources, with interactivity spots marked by red arrows throughout the museum. Monitoring what people are searching for online, she can “turn broccoli into cupcakes. I take their questions, searches and opinions and respond by giving information tailored to what they want.”