The importance of dialogue in museums – and beyond its walls

To look for a good question may be harder than searching for its answer. Choosing a topic and a research question is never easy. However, what makes a good question? A lecturer would probably say that it has to be relevant, be objective and narrow. I would add passion to that list. You have to love it. Well, you don’t have to, nonetheless if the subject triggers something within, you will probably go deeper.

Beyond. By discussing and problematizing something you are passionate about, most probably will lead to an unique point of view, a singular way of looking at it. That was clear in the presentations about our final essays on last Crossmedial Exhbitions class. From institutionalism to the use of space and interactives in museums, to the possibility of applying transmedia storytelling to art institutions strategies to the educational potential of social media in the musea field. I was surprised with the ideas proposed by my fellow peers. In my humble opinion they were quite original, relevant and most importantly made me think.

The museum field have been passing through some changes over the years, but still it has a long way to go. The idea that the audience is a blank sheet that has to be filled with information is yet present. A hierarchy polarized with who has the knowledge (the art institutions and museums) and who hasn’t (the public). This one way street has lead to a distancing, a detachment from the audience – or by the audience.

Dialogue is crucial – if you want to be heard you need to hear. This has triggered something in me, which lead to my research question: the role of museums and collections in foster a sense of community and belonging. In a globalized world marked by dichotomies, where a teenager from Thailand watches the same series that a youngster from England at the same time that there is a refugee crisis in motion and walls are being build between countries, certain things should not be forgotten. What makes us unique and makes us equal. The trivial of all subjects, water, was the angle the Museum of Water chosen to talk about what unite us all. Water is just a metaphor for this museum, which I decided to use as a case study for my research. The collection is made of recipients with the liquid donated by any individual, however what those bottles come with is what matters the most. The donator writes the story behind that item, being a sunny day at the beach with the friends or a leak caused by a kids play. What Museum of Water is doing, and what I pretend to use in my research, is an archive of connectivity. The anecdotes behind the water recipients are relatable to everyone. The collection is in constant growth and it is made with items from all over the world. Who doesn’t have a memorable story involving water? The transparent and odorless liquid is a metaphor and a reminder indeed, what is common to every person – after all aren’t we all 70% water?

Captura de Tela 2017-03-12 às 21.32.58.png

By Bruna Cataldi.


One thought on “The importance of dialogue in museums – and beyond its walls

  1. O.k. well, I asked to reflect on the presentations of the others mainly. Even more so, as you mainly talk about your own presentation, I had expected some reflection on the Q&A after your presentation, plus some connection to our course literature. Make sure your essay will pick that up.


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