BY SALLY DESKINS, EXHIBITS AND PROGRAM COORDINATOR, WVU LIBRARIES
As technology continues to develop at a rapid pace and funding for the arts and cultural organizations remains light, collaboration amongst galleries, libraries, archives and museums makes more and more sense.
Sharing resources can bring in more audiences, and lead to a better course for sustainability amongst all, as opposed to seeing each other competitively and bringing each other down.
Each organization has its own mission and scope of media, culture, history, preservation, membership and events, but with varied perspectives come varied skill sets that can be pooled and used to move everyone forward.
My position as Exhibits Coordinator at the WVU Libraries is unique. Some libraries do exhibits programs aimed at sharing their own collections, but most do not extend further into art and exhibit programs that move beyond that scope.
As printed books go to storage to make room for technology, libraries evolve into a new sort of space—still a space for research, learning, study and respite—but also for community engagement and reflection. Having art and exhibits in these publicly used spaces presents a unique opportunity for exhibitor and library guest. The exhibitor’s work is in a neutral space, a space which preserves and protects new ideas and perspectives, and a space where some who wouldn’t normally seek out art and exhibits, will go.
Additionally, as books and other library materials become more digital, exhibits provide a new physical representation that encourages the environment of focus, contemplation and thinking that library users seek.
Working in the Libraries with a background in studio art, art history, and curating presents a unique challenge to me as well—to produce exhibits in a space not originally built for exhibits, and in an environment whose primary use is for quiet study.
How do I encourage viewership, reflection, and even engagement through exhibits?
Such a challenge presents an opportunity to collaborate with other organizations, pooling our knowledge and passion for cultural engagement as well as our resources.
While I’m developing such relations with cultural organizations both on and off campus, through collaboration on programs, events, and idea sharing, I decided to initiate this blog post series to learn and share such collaborations that are happening across the state.
Selfishly, I gain ideas for my own practice, but collaboratively we can all learn from each other on this public platform provided by The Hub.
I am looking to interview folks working in galleries, libraries, archives and museums across West Virginia who do or have collaborated with other organizations, how it has worked, its benefits and challenges, and maybe what they hope or wish for the future of cultural organizations.
If this is you, please get in touch! I will start the series as soon as I find some individuals willing to share. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.