A Day at Wing Luke Museum

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DSC_2775[ by Arvin L. Acosta, Participant, Tourism Officer of El Nido] Of all museums we visited in Seattle, Wing Luke Museum is the most interesting for me. Interesting because this museum talks more about the people, their struggle to make a living, their sufferings and their inspirations. It talks about the story of Asians, leaving their family to work abroad in order to feed them.

Archaeological and cultural artifacts at the Burke museum really amazed me, but Wing Luke touches the heart. It chose to talk more about persons than things. It could be a powerful tool to transform visitors and maybe the people living in the area.

It also talks about involvement of the community in deciding what to display and this model is all I want to happen in Sibaltan. I asked Jessica, the curator of the museum, if community-based curation is possible. Lace Thornberg, the project manager of “Ancient Shores, Changing Tides” museum connect project, gave her opinion. She disagreed with me citing that curation is both artistic and technical. Jessica agreed with her.

I felt sad sad upon hearing that. I reflected for days and said to myself, “We should sacrifice aesthetics for the sake of authenticity and community ownership.” I finally decided to ask the opinion of Dr. Peter Lape and was delighted by his reply, “Yes. It’s possible.” Upon hearing this, I asked Lace if we can conduct Community-Based Curation Training in Sibaltan. She agreed with me this time.

As I returned to the Philippines, I have plotted already in mind the training and workshop design. Lace and Peter already gave me the names of persons who can help us.

Certainly, Wing Luke will influence Sibaltan’s proposed Social Museum. However, Wing Luke will stay as one of the museums in Seattle with a soul of its own. Sibaltan museum on the other hand will learn from it and evolve on it’s own, with the community as  its own curators who will tell the story of the people awakened to love their way of life. I know visitors will love this story and they will love this more when they hear that these stories were made beautiful by the people themselves. But, the most beautiful thing i want to see is the pride of the people of Sibaltan that they can also be curators, just like the experts.

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2 thoughts on “A Day at Wing Luke Museum

    laceelizabeth said:
    November 22, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Arvin, Thank you for your great reflection from this trip to the Wing Luke. You’ve really tapped into in one of the most important and much-debated current question in the museology field – with this question about who the curator is and who it should be.

    To be fair to Jessica, I am pretty sure I was the one who said “no” to community based curation” and that she then was agreeing with me – that its great to have many people sharing ideas to get the exhibit shaped, but that as the exhibit gets closer to finalized, it gets more difficult to have many people involved at every stage. The editing and design process of creating exhibits is an artistic one as much as it is techinical, and what I wanted to say that I think that the danger if that you sometimes lose a singular artistic vision when you try to have a whole team of people involved in the designing portion.

    But, your intent and earnestness on this point has really sold me, Arvin! I do agree with you, and I am very interested to see Sibaltan continue to pursue their community-based approach to curation –all the way through the exhibit process — as they add to the Balay Cuyonon.

    I’d welcome anyone reading this blog to share examples of community-based curation that they’ve seen around the world.

      brokenform said:
      November 23, 2013 at 2:18 am

      Thank you Lace for welcoming my idea. I do hope community-based curation pushes through in Sibaltan. I edited already the article.

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