Where are they now? An interview with Deborah Robichaud, Class of 1980

As part of the MMSt50 celebrations, Musings Blog contributing editor, Elizabeth Cytko, will be interviewing alumni to ask them about their experiences in the program, where there are today and what their thoughts are on “risk-taking” in the museum field

Photo courtesy of Deborah Robichaud.

Photo courtesy of Deborah Robichaud.

This month, Cytko interviewed Deborah Robichaud, who graduated in 1980 as part of class number 12. Currently retired, Robichaud previously worked as Director of the Musée acadien, Director of Information and Extension Services at the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI), and Regional Manager of Arts, Culture and Heritage for the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Click here to read the full interview.

MMSt 50
Be bold, advise panelists discussing Risk, Redefinition and Reservation in the Museum

This article by Jordan Fee is cross-posted at Musings

Risk in a professional setting is often perceived as something unwanted – something to avoid at all costs. We want to be calculated in our decisions, and to be sure of their successes. Rather than seeking risk out, many of us choose to cast doubt upon it.

Such is the mythology of risk.

However, on February 7th, the Museum Studies Students Association (MUSSA) took yet another step towards dispelling such myths. As part of the 50th Anniversary of the Museum Studies Program (MMSt50), MUSSA invited four incredible panelists – Jim Shedden (Manager of Publishing at the Art Gallery of Ontario), Shaniqua Liston (Operations Manager at Kingston Penitentiary Tours), Kathleen Brown (Chief Operating Officer of Lord Cultural Resources), and Karen Carter (Founding Executive Director of Myseum of Toronto) - to speak on their respective approaches to risk in professional settings.

Guided by moderator Melissa Smith, the panelists riffed and responded to questions such as: How do you define risk in your own setting? What is the biggest risk that you have taken in your career? and do types of museums tend to take more risks than others?

While we tend to think of risk as something that is intensely consequential, each of the speakers took time to underline - and celebrate - the smaller risks that are taken by a number of institutions on a daily basis. Speaking of the tours provided at the Kingston Penitentiary, Shaniqua Liston noted that risk in her institution generally requires a constant negotiation with her visitors, each of whom bring their own unique perspectives to the institution’s history. Kathleen Brown also shed some light on this endeavour, noting how she, as an entrepreneur, takes risks everyday when consulting with her clients. Adding some humour to this discussion, Jim Shedden noted how in the museum business, many risks are in fact taken for us, rather than by us.”

Except from Jordan Fee’s “Moving Forward with Boldness: Risk, Redefinition and Reservation in the Museum” article in Musings.

Click here to read the full article.

MMSt 50University of Toronto
Expert Panel Discussion: Risk-Taking in Museums
Museum Panel 3.jpg

While risk-taking is a hot topic in the museum field, is it really a path to museum success?

This panel brings together museum professionals from different fields with risk-taking experience in everything from exhibition design to programming. They will discuss how they balance innovation and risk, break away from museum conventions, and shift institutional paradigms. The panelists will highlight the challenges and failures they faced along the way and what they have learned from being audacious in the museum field. Finally, they will share their thoughts on the idea of a “path to success”.

Panelists

Karen Carter is the Executive Director of the Myseum of Toronto, which offers an innovative approach to the museum experience and a new way to experience Toronto’s natural spaces, cultures, history, archaeology and architecture. She has over 20 years experience working and volunteering in a variety of cultural and educational settings in Toronto. She is the co-founder and Chair of Black Artists’ Networks Dialogue (BAND), an organisation dedicated to the promotion of Black arts and culture in Canada and abroad.

Karen Carter is the Executive Director of the Myseum of Toronto, which offers an innovative approach to the museum experience and a new way to experience Toronto’s natural spaces, cultures, history, archaeology and architecture. She has over 20 years experience working and volunteering in a variety of cultural and educational settings in Toronto. She is the co-founder and Chair of Black Artists’ Networks Dialogue (BAND), an organisation dedicated to the promotion of Black arts and culture in Canada and abroad.

Jim Shedden is the Manager of Publishing at the Art Gallery of Ontario, where he also occasionally curates film-related exhibitions. In the 1990s, Shedden worked at the AGO as a film curator and performing arts programmer, before leaving for a 12 year stint at Bruce Mau Design. Shedden, who directed films on Michael Snow and Stan Brakhage, recently completed a feature documentary, I Drink (co-directed by Peter McAuley). He has written extensively on music, film, video, art, and design. Shedden has been involved in the artist-run scene in Toronto since the late 1980s.

Jim Shedden is the Manager of Publishing at the Art Gallery of Ontario, where he also occasionally curates film-related exhibitions. In the 1990s, Shedden worked at the AGO as a film curator and performing arts programmer, before leaving for a 12 year stint at Bruce Mau Design. Shedden, who directed films on Michael Snow and Stan Brakhage, recently completed a feature documentary, I Drink (co-directed by Peter McAuley). He has written extensively on music, film, video, art, and design. Shedden has been involved in the artist-run scene in Toronto since the late 1980s.

Kathleen Brown, COO of Lord Cultural Resources, has 30-plus years of experience as a respected consultant with proven management skills. Her work leaves clients and others in the field inspired and informed for their organizations’ future. Kathleen’s work has included both staff and consulting positions with cultural attractions, community organizations, government and academia.

Kathleen Brown, COO of Lord Cultural Resources, has 30-plus years of experience as a respected consultant with proven management skills. Her work leaves clients and others in the field inspired and informed for their organizations’ future. Kathleen’s work has included both staff and consulting positions with cultural attractions, community organizations, government and academia.

Shaniqua Liston has been working with Kingston Pen Tours in partnership with the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, the City of Kingston and the Correctional Service of Canada since the tours debuted in 2015. As Operations Coordinator, she learned about all the "behind-the-scenes action" needed to maintain the functionality and popularity of the Pen. She also became aware of the limitations, both physical and operational, as she worked to offer customers a genuine and authentic experience.

Shaniqua Liston has been working with Kingston Pen Tours in partnership with the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, the City of Kingston and the Correctional Service of Canada since the tours debuted in 2015. As Operations Coordinator, she learned about all the "behind-the-scenes action" needed to maintain the functionality and popularity of the Pen. She also became aware of the limitations, both physical and operational, as she worked to offer customers a genuine and authentic experience.

The panel will be facilitated by MMSt50 Committee Chair Melissa Smith, who is also Co-ordinator of the Gallery Guide, Adult Education Officer, and Access to Art programs at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The panel will be followed by a networking cocktail with snacks and a cash bar.

This event is free and open to the general public. Please register on Eventbrite as spaces are limited.

Who’s who on the MMSt50 Committee?

Who is behind all the MMSt50 celebration planning? The MMSt50 Committee is composed of engaged MMSt alumni and students, professors and staff members at the Faculty of Information.

 

Front Row: Irina D. Mihalache and Melissa Smith
Back Row: Erica Chi, Jordan-na Belle-Isle, Jor, dan Fee, Khristine Cuthberson, Courtney Murfin, Cara van der Laan, John Summers, Ann Brocklehurst, Cara Krmpotich, Laetitia Dandavino -Tardif
Missing: Lisa Habib and Katherine Hanneman

 

Here are the committee members:

Irina D. Mihalache (outgoing Chair), Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Information

Melissa Smith (incoming Chair), MMSt Alumni, Coordinator, Gallery Guide Program, Adult Education Officer Program and Access to Art Program and the Art Gallery of Ontario

Cara Krmpotich, Associate Professor/Director of Museum Studies at the Faculty of Information

Ann Brocklehurst, Senior Communications Officer at the Faculty of Information.

Lisa Habib, Alumni Development Officer at the Faculty of Information.

Jordan-na Belle-Isle, MMSt Alumni, Curatorial Administrative Assistant, Indigenous & Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

John Summers, MMSt Alumni, Manager, Heritage Services & Curator, Regional Municipality of Halton, Sessional Lecturer at the Faculty of Information.

Cara van der Laan, MMSt Alumni, Artifacts Coordinator at the Ontario Science Center, Sessional Lecturer at the Faculty of Information.

Khristine Cuthberson, MMSt Alumni, Development Coordinator at Crow’s Theatre.

Courtney Murfin, MMSt Alumni, Interpretive Planner at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Katherine Hanneman, MMSt Alumni, Designer, Business Development at Overlap Associates.

Laetitia Dandavino-Tardif, MMSt Student, MUSSA President, Social Media Coordinator and Outreach Assistant of MMSt50.

Erica Chi, MMSt Student, MUSSA Vice-President.

Jordan Fee, MMSt Student, Musings Communication Officer.

 
 
MMSt 50
Musings Writers Workshop: Digital Risk-Taking

Musings is the Master of Museum Studies student blog, started in 2014. For its anniversary, MMSt50 is partnering with Musings to offer professional development workshops to MMSt students.

In November, Musings hosted its first-ever writing workshop focusing on the theme of Risk-Taking and Digital Strategies with Sarah Hill, Senior Consultant at Lord Cultural Resources. The students learned about writing strategies specific to digital platforms and social media in the museum field.

Read more about the program on Musings.

Counting Smarties at the OMA Conference

See the Smarties jar? Know how many Smarties there are? The same as the number of graduates from UofT’s Museum Studies program over the past 49 years. The answer is 817 graduates!

During the OMA conference (October 24 - 26), the Museum Studies program had a booth where MMSt alumni and conference attendees could try and guess the number and learn more about MMSt at UofT. The lucky winners received Museum Studies merchandise, designed by MUSSA (the Museum Studies Student Association).

It’s not late to hazard a guess.

MMSt 50The Westin Prince
MUSSA’s Button Blitz

On October 22, 2018, the Museum Studies Student Association (MUSSA) hosted a Button Blitz event where Museum Studies students produced MMSt50 buttons. These buttons will be distributed to various members from the Museum Studies community: students, professors, alumni, etc.

Launch of MMSt50 and Lecture with Constance Classen

MMSt50 kicked off with a lecture from cultural historian Constance Classen, whose topic was “Collecting Our Senses: Seeing, Hearing and Touching in the Museum”.

While museums and art galleries are customarily thought of as places of visual engagement, historical and contemporary practices show that sensations of touch, of sound, of movement—even of scent and taste—all play a role in the collection experience. 

Classen's lecture fit well with the theme of MMSt's 50th anniversary year, which is risk taking. Assistant Professor Irina Mihalache, who organized many of the anniversary activities and researches museums and food, counts herself among Classen's many fans. "My students read her work on 'museum manners' and I find her work a fantastic tool to 'fight' theorizations of museums that focus on the visual only," she says.

Cara Krmpotich, Director of the Museum Studies Program, says Classen has shown that touch was an essential part of learning in early museum practice. "Based on this research, I've learned to change my own vocabulary, no longer speaking about 'damage' to objects and instead thinking about 'change.' I am an advocate for touch in the museum, and firmly believe its value outweighs any risks," says Krmpotich.

Classen's latest work is The Museum of the Senses: Experiencing Art and Collections(Bloomsbury 2017). She also gave a graduate seminar and a second lecture while at UofT.