ASK A CURATOR DAY | Hammer Edition

September 19, 2013

The third annual Ask A Curator Day took place Wednesday, September 18, 2013.  622 museums in 37 countries participated, resulting in over 26,000+ tweets.  The Hammer joined the conversation with 60+ questions answered between Aram Moshayedi, Emily Gonzalez, Leslie Cozzi, and Allison Agsten.  We were overwhelmed with the thoughtful, smart questions, and the passion that this project generated.  This is visitor engagement at it’s finest, and a true example of the power of Twitter and social media.  Big thanks to Mar Dixon for spearheading the project. Full transcript below.

Side note: We kept our curators powered with Founts and 800 Degrees Pizza.


---- 11AM-12PM | ARAM MOSHAYEDI | Curator ----

Aram recently came to the Hammer from the gallery at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater). His first exhibition for the Hammer is Pentti Monkkonen: Selected Works from the Baldwin Hills Space Association and he is currently organizing a selection of works from the Hammer Contemporary Collection. His area of expertise is projects and exhibitions.

Q. wordsandnosh: #AskACurator @hammer_museum who are the most exciting Asian/American artists working now and/or in your collections?

A. hammer_museum: @wordsandnosh #AskACurator not that there is commonality between them, but Ei Arakawa and Miljohn Ruperto.

Q. wordsandnosh: #AskACurator @hammer_museum two more q's: how would you define social practice and/or public art? What defines a work as Asian American art?

A. hammer_museum: @wordsandnosh #AskACurator SP is part of a lineage that includes rltnl asthcs and has not yet received the attention of corporations.

Q. wordsandnosh: @hammer_museum do you think if corps or big arts instis fund social practice projects they can no longer be called that? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @wordsandnosh #askacurator We already see similar approaches being deployed. Viral marketing might be some kind of version of this.

durgaakv: @wordsandnosh @hammer_museum social practice is Beuysian & he was always funded by institutions. If not institutional, unseen#AskACurator

Q. ArtifexPress: @hammer_museum How has the internet changed your curating practices? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @ArtifexPress #AskACurator The Internet has expanded our knowledge of less-traveled contexts, it has allowed artists to depend on myth.

ASHFM1: @ArtifexPress @hammer_museum It has revolutionized the research process. Allows us to fact check & cross reference our info.#AskACurator

Q. ArtifexPress: @hammer_museum What's an example of a "less traveled context" that you've discovered online? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @ArtifexPress #AskACurator the Internet allows us to visit exhibitions throughout the world but comprehensive knowledge would be impossible

Q. MaeveHanna: How do you engage emerging artists in offering them opportunities to exhibit? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @MaeveHanna #AskACurator Hammer Projects was designed as a platform for emerging artists to experiment within the context of the museum.

Q. rsoultanian: Where do you start when beginning a collection? Do you work from a theme or a question, or a concept? @hammer_museum#AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @rsoultanian #AskACurator When I think about contributing to a collection, I think about artists who need to be represented in art history.

Q. Kimberly Hahn: If you could own one work from your museums' collection or an exhibition you curated, what would it be and why? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @KimberlyHahnArt #AskACurator the 4-color wall painting by Morgan Fisher produced for last year's Made in LA and acquired by the hmmer

hammer_museum: @KimberlyHahnArt #AskACurator Morgan Fisher's most recent show is currently on view at Bortolami in New York

KimberlyHahnArt: @hammer_museum Love Made In LA! Great#artists and works in 2012. Looking forward to 2014! #ContemporaryArt #LA

hammer_museum: @KimberlyHahnArt we're excited too, artist list will be announced in March (at least that's the plan:)

KimberlyHahnArt: @hammer_museum Woohoo—excited! And so fitting on Michael Ned Holte's side of things that he will be serving up a list of Proper Names. ;)

Q. FreshInTheField: @AskACurator Calling all curators; what's the most important key to communication btw your #education and #exhibitions staff? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @FreshInTheField #AskACurator making sure that artists are an important part of these communications to fulfill greater project goals

Q. jennifuchs: To any museum who'd like to answer: Q1 What's the most unusual object in your collection? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @jennifuchs #AskACurator currently on display we have works by Pentti Monkkonen related to a palm tree he put along the 101 freeway in 1997

jennifuchs: @hammer_museum That sounds quite unusual.#AskACurator

jennifuchs: @hammer_museum Btw, I've always wanted to ask, do you have any hammers in your collection? (sorry) #AskACurator

digimarks: @jennifuchs @hammer_museum #theworldwantstoknow

hammer_museum: @jennifuchs haha We don't actually, the founder of the museum was Armand Hammer. There is however @TheHammerMuseum in Alaska #askacurator

hammer_museum: Learn something everyday... #AskACurator RT @jennifuchs: @hammer_museum @TheHammerMuseum There's also a small hammer museum in Hamburg,...

---- 12-1PM | EMILY GONZALEZ | Curatorial Assistant ----

Emily has worked on many Hammer exhibitions including Mark Leckey: On Pleasure BentLLYN FOULKES, and Made in L.A. 2012. She is interested in the institutional history of American museums.

Q. nickkegeyan: does your museum/gallery/institution have an online component? (beyond a website I.e. online exhibitions) #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @nickkegeyan #askacurator The Hammer has an app with tours, videos, audio, images. Also watch for projects coming out with @KCHUNGRadio.

Q. MichaelDooney_: How much does the way art is presented influence our perception of it? #berlinartweek #askacurator

A. hammer_museum: @MichaelDooney #askacurator It can change quite a lot. Look @ the color of the walls, lights, etc. or lack thereof on your next art visit.

MichaelDooney_: @hammer_museum visiting the fairs during #BerlinArtWeek I'm curious to see how they each display the works, in particular the lighting.

Q. WithyWindlesFox: @hammer_museum Do you think to much of the current trend towards the "experiential" in museums could lead to a reactionary rejection of it

A. hammer_museum: @WithyWindlesFox #askacurator Backlashes are inevitable. That is not to say that the current interest is not valid or worth exploring.

Q. BrittanyDelany: How are you considering live performances as an integral element w/ exhibits? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum @BrittanyDelany #askacurator Performances can be an integral part of an artist's practice, ie Simone Forti's performances during #MILA2012.

Q. tieressie: The @hammer_museum does a lot of collaboration with local orgs. How do you feel that enhances the museum going experience? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @tieressie #askacurator Thanks for asking. Local collaboration is important in a city like LA where there are so many great orgs.

Q. JohnRichardColl: What does a #curator collect for their #home#AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @JohnRichardColl #askacurator My home as a few gifts from friends and music posters.

Q. John-Richard: @hammer_museum Yes, music posters are expressive art. Did you see the Who Shot Rock N' Roll exhibit from a few years ago? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @JohnRichardColl #askacurator No, I missed that one. I wasn't in LA at the time. My posters are souvenirs from some of my fav concerts.

JohnRichardColl: @hammer_museum Artfully & thoughtfully collected #love it #AskACurator

Q. erinalyssa: what's the most unusual space you've curated? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @erinalysa #askacurator I had a grad school assignment to put together an exhibition in a prof.'s apartment. Awkward.

erinalyssa: @hammer_museum you couldn't say no?! super awkward.

Q. KimberlyHahnArt: @AskACurator A little levity—what is your favorite museum-related joke? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @KimberlyHahnArt "hey girl, just spoke to registration, you're on permanent loan to me."

KimberlyHahnArt: @hammer_museum Ha, ha, ha. Who doesn't love Hey Girl? Cracks me up.

Ryan Gosling, #museum

Q. MjBuchananC: What is the best question you've ever been asked?#AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @MjBuchananC #askacurator So what do you actually do at the museum? What is your day like?

Q. Alli Rico: How long is the process of creating an exhibit? Conception -> creation ->exhibit? #AskACurator


A. hammer_museum: @indiehearts #askacurator Up to three years. Our calendar is already scheduled through 2016.

RenoMayCenter: @hammer_museum @indiehearts Wow! I don't even have next year's calendar finished :(#AskACurator

Q. SophieJKunze: #AskACurator What’s the one thing you wish people knew about your work?

A. hammer_museum: @SophieJKunze #askacurator It is a lot of emailing and time at my desk.

Q. ‏jakesbones: @AskACurator How are you getting more kids interested in museums ? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @jakesbones programs like Family Day: Exploring Architecture make content accessible + fun for #AskACurator

---- 1-2PM | LESLIE COZZI | Curatorial Associate, Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts ----

Leslie’s areas of expertise include Feminist art, contemporary Italian art, and prints/drawings/works on paper.

Q. heather_griff: @hammer_museum @AskACurator Hi Leslie! So, I've never been to your museum. If I did visit, tell me what is the 'must see'? :) #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @heather_griff #askacurator Rembrandt's Juno is a highlight of the permanent collection, but check out the current Hammer Projects too

heather_griff: @hammer_museum She is a beauty for sure! Thanks for your #AskACurator reply & I'll definitely check out the Hammer projects. :)

Q. spramp: Curators, what do we make of of sites like Tumblr & Pinterest - curation platforms or not? Does curation require expertise? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @spramp #askacurator those platforms help reach a broader audience and are important for the process but don't replace curatorial expertise

spramp: @hammer_museum Lovely answer to my question. Thank you!

Q. WomenInTheArts: Calling all art museums: How many artworks by women do you have in your collection? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @WomenInTheArts #AskACurator don't know exact numbers re collection but there's equal representation in exhibitions:…

WomenInTheArts: @hammer_museum Yes, we tweeted about that article—a good read! #AskACurator

Q. alli_burnie: Which comes first, objects or stories? #AskaCurator (ping @medicalmuseion)

A. hammer_museum: @alli_burnie #AskACurator objects and stories are inextricably linked-every object has a story

alli_burnie: @hammer_museum Couldn’t agree more.

Q. MjBuchananC: What is the first job you can get on the path to becoming a curator? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @MjBuchananC #AskACurator Internships are often the first step on the road to a museum career.

Q. GMUAHGA: Has the popularity of mobile apps and interactive websites changed how you conceptualize/plan an exhibition?#AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @GMUAHGA #AskACurator Yes, more and more. Museums try to integrate new technology into both education programs and exhibition design.

Q. Deanna Gulick: What art movement do you think had the greatest impact on the history of modern art? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @deegee1024 #AskACurator Arguably, impressionism - it's when contemporary life and leisure started to shape both artistic content and form

Q. tieressie: @hammer_museum Is there disparity in support for feminist or experimental contemp. exhibits? If so, how do you deal w. it? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @tieressie #AskACurator Unfortunately, museums often have biases, but the Hammer's priority is to confront and redress such exclusions

ISMLockport: @hammer_museum @tieressie @AskACurator Be careful your redress bias is showing

hammer_museum: Not a bias, more a balance... RT @ISMLockport: @hammer_museum @tieressie @AskACurator Be careful your redress bias is showing

Q. jeff_moran: @metmuseum @alteveer#askacurator What are your metrics of success for an exhibition? Attendance? Positive reviews from peers / community?

A. hammer_museum: @jeff_moran #AskACurator Attendance and reviews are welcome, but we aren't driven by the popularity of what we do but rather its importance

Q. JSchlue@hammer_museum hi Leslie, how often do you do studio visits?

A. hammer_museum: @JSchlue #AskACurator My focus right now is more on historical research, but many Hammer curators make dozens of studio visits a week.

Q. NzingaTene: #AskACurator Is your role that of gatekeeper, caretaker or tastemaker? Or objective presenter of art/culture?

A. hammer_museum: @NzingaTene #AskACurator We play all of those roles in some degree. We attempt to balance stewardship, scholarship, and innovation.

Q. MHoetger: #AskACurator How much of your job is fundraising, appx percentage-wise?

A. hammer_museum: @MHoetger #AskACurator Development handles fundraising, but curators generally try to maintain their distance from financial considerations

heather_griff: @hammer_museum I find that really interesting! It's very different in the UK in non-national museums. The collections teams do everything...

Q. nick kegeyan: #AskACurator what's your biggest fear as a curator?

A. hammer_museum: @nickkegeyan #AskACurator My biggest fear is that I might misrepresent the work in some way.

Q. fresaclub: @hammer_museum How do you plan to increase feminist art in LA? #AskACurator @AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @fresaclub #AskACurator By supporting and acquiring feminist art - like our landmark pieces by Mary Kelly and Suzanne Lacey

fresaclub: @hammer_museum thanks for fighting the good fight!

---- 2-3PM | ALLISON AGSTEN | Curator, Public Engagement ----

Allison can answer questions about collectives, collaboration, intimacy at museums, museum as a civic space, Los Angeles as the ultimate place to develop PE-type programming, and kids + art. She’s also a car enthusiast.

Q. JSchlue: @hammer_museum what are you currently working on? Have you visited the Pollock project at the Getty?#AskACurator

A. hammer_museum @JSchlue #AskACurator I just launched a big residency (50ish programs in 3 mos!) w/ @KCHUNGRadio yesterday. Pollock... ahhh... I wish!

Q. @steveslack: What is the best way to find out what visitors REALLY think? #askacurator

A. hammer_museum: @steveslack #AskACurator You must be willing to engage in a dialogue. Surveying, etc. often doesn't tell the whole story.

steveslack: @hammer_museum Yes! Qualitative research is really important. Great findings come from conversations.

Q. SVT_Boricua: @hammer_museum How do you help develop conversation around-and build community through-an exhibition?

A. hammer_museum: @SVT_Boricua #AskACurator Visitor participation (that's what my program is all about) can shift a project from being "ours" to "yours."

Q. Stephania Villar: What's that one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you became a curator? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @Teffinina #AskACurator Life as a curator is not quiet & slow! Or not in my little corner of the world. Endless maximum intensity programs.

Q. nick kegeyan: #AskACurator are physical objects important in increasingly digital world? especially looking to work made in the present and future

A. hammer_museum: @nickkegeyan #AskACurator Commune w/ objects may hold more magic than ever. Same is true w/ all direct experience though, object or not.

Q. linzherk @hammer_museum Are social media days (like this) going to be a mainstay for a contemporary curatorial practice?#AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @linzherk #AskACurator Illuminating the work of the museum is a growing priority so online chats w/ curators etc. is inevitable (& good!).

Q. Patricia Cariño: Who would be your dream collaborator? #AskACurator #curator #collaboration #projects #artist #artmaking #exhibition #thinkbig

A. hammer_museum: @pattyjmc #AskACurator Collaborate w/ anyone? It's gotta be @yokoono. So, um, about that @yokoono...

Q. Jenna Peterson: Which of your artifacts is the most misunderstood, and why? #AskACurator

A. hammer_museum: @museumuse #AskACurator Many may think our ping pong tables are around just to lighten the mood but they are actually a sound installation!

Q. museumuse: @hammer_museum Can visitors play a round of ping pong on them?

A. hammer_museum: @museumuse Absolutely! It's encouraged.

Q. emiliatelese: @hammer_museum @museumuse often #socialpractice can seem tokenistic if done for the wrong reasons. How do you tell ? #AskACurator

hammer_museum: @emiliatelese #AskACurator Ask about intention. Take a good look at the presenting institution & curator and see how it all lines up.

tworiversart: @emiliatelese @hammer_museum @museumuse interesting ?. Perhaps it is also in how the context around the work is constructed #AskACurator

Q. mlbeckbridge: @hammer_museum What's your favorite part of your job?

A. hammer_museum: @mlbeckbridge #AskACurator Best part is making the impossible possible & stretching to the outer limits of what a museum can be.

mlbeckbridge @hammer_museum Sounds like a ton of fun! Thanks for the response.

Q. ZachHottel: @hammer_museum what is the simplest way to define what is so cutting edge about your museum? #AskACurator#HIS5575

A. hammer_museum: @ZachHottel #AskACurator We are pro-risk in that there is a fearlessness about trying new things programmatically. & the staff is awesome.