Nestled between the Edward Burne-Jones and 18th century galleries is the Story LAB, a gallery created for testing storylines and methodologies for co curation and collaboration here at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The current exhibition in the space, The Past is Now, has been open since November 2017 and encourages visitor feedback as part of its design. From July 2018, we will launch a new story in the gallery around the theme of Body Image. It will have been designed, curated and interpreted with the help of expert partners, schools and our volunteer colLABorators.
In our approach to the curation for Body Image, we are aiming to pin down the theme to one story narrative or question for exploration. We are working to offer a gallery that champions specificity in its focus, with a flexible story framework that may allow visitors to layer over the finished exhibition their own personal connections to it. The gallery could centre on ideas such as gender assignment, body dysmorphia or disability for example. All of which are specific enough to focus the theme of the space, but wide enough for us to explore many possibilities and display a rich object assortment. The gallery will aim to actively encourage multiple layers of feedback and will feature interactives with possible experiential elements, alongside a wide range of interpretation styles.
Our Research Curator for Story LAB, Rachael Minott, worked intensely on the curation for hugely acclaimed exhibition, The Past is Now. She’ll again be leading on the object selection and research for this new story. Rachael will present for the coLABorators consideration a range of multidisciplinary artworks including arts on paper, sculpture, paintings and prints from the museum collection. Her knowledge of world collections will undoubtedly enrich the potential display with variations of objects from across the world, which may be used to talk about body image and identity in context to Birmingham’s people.
With so many possible angles to take on body image, we recognise that many stories therefore won’t be emphasised or spotlighted in the space, so we’ve decided to invite our previous volunteers back as Engagement Assistant to engage in debates, polls and wider discussions online.
Our Stories Assistant has written us a blog post around photography and perfection. You can have a read of it here.
We will have Open LAB surgeries on Sundays, where we will use questions to start discussions or debates and weekly posts will be put up about the project progress.