Vaishnavi Ramanathan

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The CIMAM 2017 Conference was a great learning experience. For someone who works for a museum (Piramal Museum of Art) that has a keen interest in collaborations, the conference helped me understand ways in which interactions could be structured and collaborations could be catalysed.

At an organisational level, the conference has provided me with a model that I would like to adapt for the space in which I work. At the intellectual level, the discussions and presentations emphasised to me the uneven terrain in which art professionals work and the need for finding solutions that are specific to the context. For example, while censorship is becoming increasingly common and artists/ institutions are finding ways to resist it, the point made by Ute Meta Bauer (in the discussion on the third day) made me see the issue from a different perspective. What could be construed as succumbing to the pressure of censorship and not allowing certain kinds of art works could also be seen as being respectful towards the sentiments of different communities. Such discussions gave me a varied perspective on a single issue. Similarly, the discussion group helped me gain a global perspective on the issue of collecting and deaccesioning. Since I work for a private museum that is currently building its collection and developing guide lines for the same, I found this particularly useful. Significantly, the discussion also helped me understand the gap as well as the possible bridges between a private collector’s vision and a public museum. The understanding gained from the group discussion was enhanced with the presentations by Suhanya Raffel, Donna De Salvo and Adriano Pedrosa on the following day. These presentations illustrated through case studies the process by which collections are acquired, institutions are built and engagements with the public are created.

I would also like to mention that a large chunk of learning at the conference was the space of the conference itself. The children’s art education wing at the National Gallery has given me many ideas on how art can be introduced to children and I hope to implement these at the museum where I work.