Class Provides Hands-On Experience in Museum Curation

A new exhibit, curated by 25 students in the Museum Studies capstone course, is set to open Friday, April 21, at 6 p.m. in the Michigan State University Union Art Gallery. The exhibit, titled (Re)Dress: Outfitting Controversy, explores controversy and identity in clothing throughout the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

Students on the Installation Committee collaborate to assemble the exhibit.
Students on the Installation Committee collaborate to assemble the exhibit.

Taught by Susan Bandes, Director of the Museum Studies program and Professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, the class gives students the opportunity to curate their own museum exhibition. Together, the students chose the pieces to feature, conducted research on the objects, wrote the labels, installed the exhibit, and marketed the event. 

“They’re learning negotiation skills and how to listen to and work with each other,” Bandes said. “They’re learning how to do the work that a real curator does. The class really is a culmination of everything they have learned in the minor.”

A lot of classes are just reading and learning theory, but this is more immersive.

Jake Roberts

When choosing the theme of this year’s exhibit, Bandes assigned her students one simple word: Dress. Over the semester, this theme transformed

Chinese shoes
A pair of Chinese shoes featured in the exhibit.
 

into an examination of identity and controversy in dress throughout time. Students selected and researched articles of clothing from the MSU Museum and the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, including a World War II uniform, Chinese shoes for a woman with bound feet, and more.

“I like this class because it really gets me involved in the museums on campus, and it’s very hands-on. A lot of classes are just reading and learning theory, but this is more immersive,” said Museum Studies student Jake Roberts. “Down the line, when we go out and talk to employers and museums that we want to work with, we’ll be able to say that we have some understanding of the process that goes into creating an exhibition.”

An opening reception for the (Re)Dress: Outfitting Controversy exhibition will take place Friday, April 21, from 6-8 p.m. Admission is free, and food and refreshments will be provided.

 

Written by Alexandria Drzazgowski, Professional Writing Major