Museums, Access, and the Ethics of Care

February 21–24, 2018

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Event Details

Los Angeles Convention Center
College Art Association
Los Angeles, CA

Other Speakers

Chair: Elizabeth Guffey, Purchase College, The State University of New York,; Discussant: Amanda Cachia, Moreno Valley College, Riverside Community College District,

This panel considers care as both a concept and a practice relevant to art museums. Building on recent feminist theory on the ethics of care and trends in science and technology studies (STS) on notions of maintenance, we welcome submissions that foreground ideas of care in settings where art is presented to diverse audiences. In this context, care is not a predetermined idea or sentiment, but is rather positioned as an embodied response toward ideas of interdependence. Care has a transformative character, remaking the social and material environment. Care, as noted in the paradigm-shifting work of feminist and critical legal theorist Martha Albertson Fineman, cultivates “the attachments that support people.” These ideas have lead to a vigorous discussion of care as an essential function of planning urban environments. But, we ask, how might care be reflected in the structures of art museums? In museums as buildings? In exhibition design? In tactile-friendly displays, or displays that contain multi-sensorial material? In wall labels that are available in large print or Braille copy? Are the displays hung on the wall so that they are accessible to a variety of human scales? Are sound-based works accompanied by captions or American Sign Language interpretation? Do museums consider how audio tours may coexist alongside audio descriptions? All these questions and more will be considered in this panel. Above all, we ask: How can we broaden our conception of museums as institutions of care?