The creator of Curatorial Dreams, Shelley Ruth Butler’s bio can be found here.
A Curatorial Dream workshop is essentially a guided exercise in conceptualizing an imagined exhibition.
For museum professionals, a Curatorial Dream workshop is an excellent opportunity to think outside the box, to develop an exhibition without financial, bureaucratic, political, institutional, or infrastructure constraints. A Curatorial Dream workshop can bring together employees who may have limited interactions with each other in their workday lives, or it can be designed for a team who work together, like educators. In either case, the workshop gives permission to curators and non-curators to dream, to develop an exhibition, or exhibitionary moments, based on artifacts, images, texts, and spaces that speak to them.
A Curatorial Dream workshop is personal and engaging, but also an opportunity for small and large museums to take stock collectively, to invigorate a team in a safe context, and to discover inspirational sources, skills, and even solutions.
For researchers and academics in all disciplines, a Curatorial Dream workshop offers the challenge of translating scholarly work into an engaging visual, and sometimes aural, exhibition. Finding a key message, expressing the ambiguity and complexity that are the hallmark of scholarship, choosing specific images, objects and spaces, considering a target audience, exploring methodology, and a finding an appealing title are tasks that structure this workshop. A Curatorial Dream workshop is both humbling and emboldening for academics.
For scholars and researchers, a Curatorial Dream workshop is an opportunity to try out public scholarship. Curatorial Dream workshops offer an opportunity to translate research into a participatory, dialogic, visual, or auditor medium. Research is harnessed to address controversial or divisive issues and to seek wide-ranging solutions to pressing social concerns.
For community groups, a Curatorial Dream workshop is a unique tool for exploring collective goals, internal diversity, generational divides, and relationships between history and contemporary concerns. A goal could be to create a pop-up exhibition, to initiate a process of crowd-sourcing artifacts and oral histories, or to create an exhibition proposal for a specific museum or display environment.
A Curatorial Dream workshop can also focus on building trust, knowledge exchange, and communication between community groups, academics, and museum professionals. Participants from different domains work collaboratively, with specific materials — material artifacts, popular visual culture, personal anecdotes and memories, everyday objects — to build imagined exhibtionary moments. The ambience is low-risk and it can generate gems to build on.
In classrooms, a Curatorial Dream workshop is an innovative pedagogical tool to gage students’ ability to apply concepts and theory to real spaces, and to work with contemporary and historical primary materials. The Curatorial Dream workshop can be highly interactive and participatory, as when teams of students solve a problem together, or it can be oriented to individual reflection and application.
Playful, analytical, critical, creative, collaborative, contemplative– the atmosphere of each Curatorial Dream workshop is unique and is crafted in response to a specific museum, display space, collection, or issue, as well as the desires and interests of the group.