Race-ing the Museum: a workshop for Pitt graduate students and faculty - Application Deadline: Feb. 19

Co-leaders: Kirk Savage, HAA and Shirin Fozi, HAA
Graduate fellow: Nicole Scalissi


Generous funding is offered through a grant from the A.W. Mellon Foundation:

• 10 participants will receive $2,000 each to participate in the week-long workshop and carry their work forward (as described below).

• Faculty who participate will also be eligible to apply for a paid course release to develop a new course or redesign an existing course.


Application deadline: Friday, Feb. 19, 2016


In our far from post-racial world, museums are not immune to the pressures of demographic change and urgent new campaigns for racial justice.  Famous European museums are altering the titles of art works to eliminate demeaning terms; Confederate monuments are being dismantled in public space and sent to history museums for storage; museums across the U.S. are scrambling to shed their image as bastions of privilege and to diversify their audiences and supporters. 

How have museums, as collections and as institutions, created, supported, or challenged constructions of race and racial identity?  How are museums and their objects implicated in the history of slavery, indigenous peoples, and race relations?  How have museums represented and interpreted these issues?  How can and should their collections tell different stories?  What can museums do to combat white privilege, and become more diverse in their institutional structures and in their audiences?

These are some of the questions this workshop will confront, as we work cooperatively with local museums and their staffs.  Participants will go behind the scenes to interact with museum professionals in Pittsburgh and discuss their work and challenges.  We will also investigate the collections themselves and examine sub-themes tailored to the interests of the participants.   Most of our collective time will be spent “in the field,” but participants will be encouraged to form collaborative sub-groups to define projects that can outlast the workshop itself.  An online collaborative tool has been developed to facilitate interaction before, during, and after the term of the workshop.  Projects might take many forms but we are particularly interested in a) research projects that make use of objects in local collections and that could be externalized as articles, websites, or digital exhibitions; and/or b) new or revised course syllabi that integrate objects from local collections into the content and structure of the course. 

One concrete opportunity is to showcase one or more projects in HAA’s online journal Contemporaneity: Historical Presence in Visual Culture: http://contemporaneity.pitt.edu/.

Participants are granted a stipend of $2,000 each, with the understanding that they will participate full-time for the week and will then carry their work forward as a research or teaching initiative of some kind.  For faculty participants in the workshop who intend to develop a new course or substantially redesign an existing course, there is additional funding available on application to pay for a course release to complete that project.

Applications are invited from Pitt faculty and graduate students, from any discipline and any department, who are interested in objects, collections, and museums.  Apply directly to Kirk Savage, ksa@pitt.edu.  Please attach your application as a single PDF.  And please feel free to make queries ahead of application. Include in the PDF a current cv and a short statement (400-800 words) explaining why you would like to participate, what you hope to gain, and what project or projects you can envisage carrying forward from the workshop (with the understanding, of course, that your initial ideas will probably transform as you explore the collections and work with other participants).  Graduate students: please also include a brief letter from your faculty supervisor or director of graduate studies confirming their support of your application.  Faculty: please also include a brief letter from your department chair confirming her/his support of your application.  Application deadline: Friday, Feb. 19, 2016


Note: This workshop is generously supported by a grant from the A.W. Mellon Foundation.