As museums continue their transition to be more responsive to their diverse audiences, the expectation grows for contemporary art experiences that call for further inspection and facilitation of visitor engagement. There is a new contemporary art audience – this audience is unaccustomed to interpreting works of art. There is a challenge in contemporary art museum interpretation; where art objects need freedom from imposed viewpoints, yet require acknowledgment of points of access into a work of art for those unaccustomed to interpreting such works. This thesis will catalyze a prescribed process and model of communication that highlights these points of access. I am fulfilling this need with the realized and self-assigned term of access portal.
This thesis will prove empathy as an access portal through the use of visual stimuli, mimicry, personal history and story telling. It will provide reasoning for contemporary art museums to provide further inclusive methods of visitor engagement. This thesis will not provide reasoning for museums to interpret works of contemporary art for the visitor. It will not exhibit the museum’s agenda in curation or interpretation of works of art. This thesis will highlight the multiple and multi-faceted points of access, or access portals, for visitors to engage and enter into conversation with works of contemporary art. It will prove the viability of empathy as an educational tool and access portal, with which visitors can engage and create meaning in viewing and experiencing works of contemporary art. It will highlight intellectual well-being in association with museum conviviality. This thesis will prove the usage of personal histories as an access portal to engage with works of art.
Access Portal: (n.) A point of access in which a visitor might begin to engage with a work of contemporary art and create meaning. Examples include segments of interpretation: inchoate responses, utterances, acknowledgment of matter, medium, form and context, personal stories, videos, audio guides, docents, gallery facilitators, MakeTools, etc. (This term is a Neologism1).
Access Portal Prototype
“I love how communicative and interactive this exhibition is! It made me feel more important as a viewer, since my opinion is so clearly wanted and not kept to myself and my friends.”
Instituting and highlighting access portals in contemporary art experiences is imperative. The access portal of empathy, through the usage of personal history // stories is key in the initial engagement for visitors entering into conversation with works of contemporary art. There are multiple access portals within an institution, and the framework of this model can be further explored to identify which access portals work best for each type of learner at a given exhibition. Access portals can begin by being specifically geared toward the audience encompassed in “unaccustomed art viewers”, but should be modified and expanded to incorporate advanced levels of learning. For instance, my prototype exhibited participants similar in contemporary art knowledge to those viewing the work, but could easily have exhibited participants of higher levels of art knowledge for the more advanced learner // engager. This could be a solution and sustainable way to iterate my prototyped access portal for multiple audiences.
To view full thesis: CharletteHove-MFAThesis