Picturing conviviality

July 29th, 2011 by Wendy Pollock

Image by Darcie Fohrman: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.Is your museum convivial? Have you visited a museum where you’ve felt particularly energized and alive? We invite you to share images and stories—and to join Kathleen McLean and me during the ASTC Annual Conference to celebrate museums that cultivate this essential quality of vibrant public places.

In our recent book, The Convivial Museum, we suggest that these are key dimensions of conviviality: a welcoming spirit, orientation to the community, comfort, opportunities for social engagement, and places for healing and renewal. The book focuses on physical features of museums—like approaches, entryways, seating, lounges, and nooks—because although they are often overlooked, they have profound effects on the quality of a museum experience. For more, check out the discussion Nina Simon hosted on her blog earlier this year.

Comfortable seating at the Denver Art Museum's Hamilton BuildingUse the Bits feature of ExhibitFiles to submit your image, video, or story of a convivial museum experience, and be included in a dynamic discussion of successes and failures, obstacles and opportunities. Be sure to identify the image and include a comment about the convivial quality of the place, how you (or others) are working to make it more convivial, or a question or challenge it represents.

Log in and post a Bit; or share your image and story on Facebook (or email me). The conference session is on Monday, October 17, in Baltimore,10:45 a.m.- 12:00 noon.

About the images: Darcie Forhman’s photograph of visitors to Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art (above) is in a section of The Convivial Museum about ambience. Erik Thogersen’s photograph of comfortable seating (left) is from his review of a new building at the Denver Art Museum. Another example is the Center for Creative Connections, which Kathleen McLean profiles in her case study.

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