The Craft Museum: Ideals and Practice

March 13, 2015

This symposium will examine the role of the craft museum in modern culture. Coinciding with the renovation of the Renwick Gallery, the Smithsonian’s national craft museum, this program seeks a lively dialogue on craft’s institutional mission, and the execution of programming devoted to the collection, conservation, presentation, and study of craft. The issue of how to interpret the field of craft in a museum setting is increasingly urgent as the boundaries of its teaching, practice, reception, and the discipline’s very definition shift dramatically in the first quarter of the 21st century.

Symposium Program

10 a.m. - Welcome 

  • Keynote by Sir Christopher Fraying, current Professor Emeritus of Cultural History at the RCA and Fellow of Churchill College Cambridge; former Rector of the Royal College of Art and Chair of Arts Council England

11:30 a.m.—12:30 p.m. 

  • “The Vitrine as Threshold: Craft in a Changing Museum” by Perry Price, American Craft Council
  • “Beyond the Carpets: Exhibiting Crafts and Designs in Iran” by Alexander Nagel, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

12:30—1:30 p.m. - Break

1:30—3:30 p.m. 

  • “Propelling the Encyclopedic Museum Forward: Strategies for the Future of Collecting Craft” by Cindi Strauss and Anna Walker, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
  • “Performance in Craft” moderated by Jeannine Falino, Museum of Arts and Design with panelists: Emily Zilber, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Gabriel Craig, artist; Jessica Jane Julius, artist; Emma Salamon, artist

3:30—4 p.m. - Break

4—6 p.m.

  • “Words Matter: Craft and Oral History in the Digital Realm” by Catherine Whalen, Bard Graduate Center
  • “Shifting Threads: Collective Craft Knowledge in the Digital Sphere” by Mei-Ling Israel, Bard Graduate Center
  • “Learning through Making: Integrating Museums, Makers, and Community” moderated by James Herring, Frost Museum with panelists: Erica Halverson, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Stefania Van Dyke, Denver Art Museum; and Neal Overstrom, Rhode Island School of Design

6:00 p.m. - Closing Remarks

  • Light reception to follow

Program made possible by the Smithsonian Women’s Committee and James Renwick Alliance.

Symposium Webcast Playlist