Current and former Museum Studies PhD students present papers at AAM

An international panel of current and former PhD students from the School of Museum Studies co-led a session on their doctoral research projects at the 2016 American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Annual Meeting & Museum Expo in Washington, D.C., on 28 May. Two current PhD students, Ching-yueh Hsieh and Ryan Nutting, and two recent graduates, Dr Stephanie Bowry and Dr Petrina Foti, presented on the subject of Ghosts of Power in the Past, Present and Future Museum. The panel used a conversational format to explore the use of power in four museum worlds: the sixteenth-century cabinet of Albrecht V (Munich), a late nineteenth-century collection of Asian objects in the Horniman Free Museum (London), digital technology objects at the Smithsonian in the late twentieth century and twenty-first-century exhibitions on indigenous peoples in Taiwan. Rather than presenting a chronology, the group considered the common themes which connected their research, including representational strategies, authority issues and consequences, and invited the audience to contribute to the discussion. The presentation emerged from an initial idea by Petrina Foti and was developed in collaboration with Luke Leyh of the United States Holocaust Museum. A version of the final paper was also presented at a lunchtime colloquium to staff of the National Museum of American History.

It was the first time three of the presenters had attended AAM, which is the largest gathering of museum professionals in the world. The group also attended some fascinating sessions and workshops, including a presentation by NASA astronaut Dr Mae C.  Jemison, as well as social events including the Global Leadership Reception and exhibition at the Renwick Gallery and ‘The Party’, a spectacular closing event hosted by the National Museum of Natural History. The group made good use of their time in D.C., enjoying the stunning architecture of the US capital, and visiting the many museums, galleries and monuments located on the Mall. This year’s AAM was also attended by Dr Janet Marstine, Academic Director, who represented the School’s campus and distance learning programmes at the Marketplace of Ideas event, supported by Ryan, Stephanie, Ching and Petrina.

AAM proved to be a fantastic opportunity to showcase our work, catch up with former colleagues and network with established and emerging museum professionals. It was also a valuable learning experience for the group, who learned so much from their colleagues’ research projects, and gained a richer understanding of our own.

Stephanie Bowry
Honorary Research Fellow, School of Museum Studies