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Museum Curatorial Kit for Teens

Client: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


What happens when a museum redefines expertise? 

Art museums are rich cultural sites that can preserve, heal, and inspire. But for who? They are too often inaccessible and unwelcoming  marginalized communities who do not see themselves, their stories, and their knowledge reflected. In a limited environment, which artistic works get chosen to be placed in the spotlight can uplift certain identities, cultures, and communities while erasing others.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) is on a journey to reform and restructure its practices and mindsets to celebrate diversity, promote inclusion, and accurately represent the cultural, historical, and social legacies of Boston’s communities. One of those efforts is the Curatorial Study Hall, a 10-week youth program that welcomed Black and Brown high schoolers to curate an art exhibition at the museum.

Our role was to support the MFA team in creating a safe space to equip these students with the skills they need to develop the art exhibition. Our response was to design the Curatorial zine, a fun and playful guide that conceptualized the process of curating an art exhibit, from start to finish.

The culmination of the Curatorial Study Hall teens’ work was “Black Histories, Black Futures” an exhibition curated from the MFA’s collection of 20th century artists of color. The exhibition spans the Museum’s central spine,  functioning as a connective thread that infuses the visitor experience.

To continue the impact of the Curatorial Study Hall beyond this launch year, we worked with the Museum team to design a toolkit for replication of the program. The toolkit outlines a comprehensive 10-week curriculum that includes vocabulary sheets, journal prompts, and other activities to engage and familiarize the young people with the curatorial process.

Our work with the MFA Curatorial Study Hall challenged the conservatism and elitism surrounding art spaces and art curation by centering youth voices and voices of color. Prioritizing the input and insight of those who have been historically underrepresented leads to powerful narrative shaping and meaning making of what art is and who it is for.

The MFA Curator Zine

The MFA Curator Kit

Our mission is to use design to reduce structural inequity in America. Agncy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  © 2020 Agncy Design Inc. 
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