Decorative banner for the curatorial dreaming session

‘Curatorial Dreaming’ Session

Issues of representation & display in the curation of “difficult” objects in the aftermath of violence

In place of our regular BEE meet, we’re sponsoring this round table discussion on

Monday, November 16
10-11:30am (USA Central)

Join us for a “curatorial dreaming” session in which visiting professor and museum curator Dr. Erica Lehrer leads us in a process of prototyping curatorial solutions to the representation and display of three or four ‘difficult objects’ from faculty exhibitions, research, and public projects. Dr. Lehrer will be joined by Suzy Seriff, Ricardo Velasco, and others in this roundtable session.

All are welcome to attend.
Zoom Address:

Professor Erica Lehrer (Concordia University, Montréal) is delivering the Gale Family Foundation Fall Lecture on November 15th at 5pm. More details are available at the Schusterman Center website.

This event is sponsored by The Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies, the Bureau for Experimental Ethnography, the Humanities Institute, and the Department of Anthropology.

Participant Bios.

Dr. Erica Lehrer is a sociocultural anthropologist and curator. She holds a PhD from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and is currently Professor in the Departments of History and Sociology-Anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. She is also Founding Director of the Curating and Public Scholarship Lab (CaPSL) and held the Canada Research Chair in Museum and Heritage Studies from 2007 to 2017.  

Dr. Lehrer is a prominent scholar in the fields of heritage tourism, museum curating, and folk art in post-conflict societies.  While her empirical field and curatorial work focuses on contemporary Poland, she is in scholarly conversation with researchers, teachers, and museum professionals who approach difficult, often violent histories, and who face the challenge of teaching, remembering, and exhibiting these events.

Jennifer Scott is an anthropologist, curator and public historian, whose work explores connections between museums, arts, place and social justice. She most recently served as director and chief curator of Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago, leading the exhibitions, community engagement efforts and overall vision of the Museum for nearly six years. In 2019, the Museum was recognized with the Award for Excellence in Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice by the Association of Midwest Museums. Previously, Jennifer served as vice director and director of research at Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn, a historic site that memorializes a Free Black independent community in 19thcentury New York. Jennifer is a Board Member for the National Association for Museum Exhibition and Vice-President for the Association of Midwest Museums. A civic leader in Chicago, she was appointed in 2020 by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, to serve on the City of Chicago’s Cultural Advisory Council and recently appointed co-chair of Chicago’s new Monuments and Memorials Committee. Jennifer currently serves as faculty at The New School in New York. She researches, writes and lectures locally and internationally on arts and social change, the role of public memory and contested heritage and innovative strategies for museums, arts and cultural centers. Recent publications include: “Statues of Limitation: Are Museums the Rightful Home for Confederate Monuments?”(2019); “Designing for Outrage: Inviting Disruption and Contested Truth Into Museum Exhibitions”(2017) and Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-first Century at a Post-Emancipation Site” (2015).

Suzanne (Suzy) Seriff is a Senior Lecturer in Folklore and Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin, where she teaches courses in cultural anthropology, museum representation, dialogue and civic engagement. She also serves as Director of the Arts and Social Justice Internship Program at UT’s Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at UT Austin. A PhD in Folklore and Anthropology, Seriff combines innovative teaching with consultation and curation, nationwide, on issues that explore locally produced arts-based education, engagement, and advocacy to museum and public arts projects. Seriff has guest curated and co-directed several nationally traveling museum and civic engagement projects including “Recycled, Re-Seen: Folk Art from the Global Scrap Heap” which won the American Alliance of Museum’s 1997 Curator’s Committee Exhibition Award, and the 2009 NEH-funded exhibition “Forgotten Gateway: Coming to America Through Galveston Island,” for the Bullock Texas State History Museum. From 2010-2017,  Dr. Seriff served as guest curator and founding director of the Gallery of Conscience at the Museum of International Folk Art from 2010 to 2017, a participatory exhibition space that draws on the power of folk art to spark meaningful community engagement around social justice and human rights issues of our time, including women’s empowerment, natural disaster, HIV/AIDS, and the ethics of the marketplace. Dr. Seriff has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including, most recently, the Michael M. Ames Award  (along with former MOIFA Director, Dr. Marsha M. Bol) for Innovation in Museum Anthropology from the Council of Museum Anthropology, for their innovative work in developing the Gallery of Conscience, and the International Toy Research Association’s 2018 Senior Prize for outstanding toy research for her exploration of Holocaust-themed toys in a climate of rising anti-semitism. She is a contributor to a number of museum, folk art, and heritage publications, including  most recently, ”Holocaust War Games: Playing with Genocide” (2018); “Between Two Worlds: Incubating a New Approach to Community Engagement and Civic Responsibility in an Art Museum” (2018); “Designing for Outrage: Inviting Disruption and Contested Truth into Museum Exhibitions” (With Jennifer Scott and Barbara Lau) 2016; and “Folk Art and Social Change in an American Museum (with Marsha Bol) 2017and  her co-edited volume (with Charlene Cerny), Recycled, Re-Seen: Folk Art from the Global Scrap Heap  (1996).

Ricardo Velasco is a social documentary media producer, director and scholar, PhD in Latin American Studies from the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. My prior academic merits include a Master of Arts Degree in Social Documentation from the Department of Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz, a MA degree in Cultural Studies from the University of the Andes in Bogotá, and a Bachelor of Music degree with Major in Sound Engineering and Minor in Composition and Production. My work can be located at the interface between critical inquiry and creative documentary practice in the fields of cultural and visual studies, memory studies and visual anthropology. I have been recipient of several grants and awards, including the Andrew Mellon Engaged Scholar Initiative Fellowship, the Evan Frankel Fellowship in the Humanities and the Teresa Lozano Long Fellowship, by the University of Texas at Austin, and the Human Rights Fellowship of the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley (2013).