New Course Gives Students Deep Role in Developing Upcoming Exhibition at U-M Museum of Art

New Course Gives Students Deep Role in Developing an Upcoming Exhibition at UMMA

The image is split in two. On the left side, it is a carving of two feminine-looking figurse wearing headdresses, on gray stone. On the right side, it is a brown sculpture of a person made out of guns.

Left: a 12th-century carving of apsaras (celestial dancers) at Angkor Wat. Right: Ouk Chim Vichet, "Apsara Warrior," circa 2004, metal. UMMA, Museum purchase made possible by Guy and Nora Barron, 2007/2.79

In a Fall 2021 course taught by U-M art history professor Dr. Nachiket Chanchani, undergraduate and graduate students will become an integral part of a team that will bring to life an exhibition at the U-M Museum of Art (UMMA).

The curatorial seminar, “Cultural Heritage and Post-Genocide Memory in Cambodia” (HISTART 497.005/HISTART 689.005) will focus on how Cambodians living in the country and in the diaspora today deal with the history of the Khmer Empire that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries in mainland Southeast Asia. 

Students will explore how the remnants of art and architecture of this period are intertwined with the memories of the radical Khmer Rouge’s brutal regime in the 1970s, during which nearly a fourth of the country’s population was killed and the forms and meanings of the cultural heritage of Cambodia mutated. 

An upcoming exhibition with the working title “Angkor Complex,” scheduled to open at UMMA in 2024, will showcase Cambodian art—including architectural fragments, sculptures, painting, and photographs—from a variety of time periods. 

Throughout the semester, various UMMA staff members will join the class meetings to share how their responsibilities fit into the exhibition’s larger decision-making process. Students will discuss the logistics of gathering the chosen artworks, renovating the gallery space, creating wall label texts, and promoting the exhibition online, among other essential elements. In all, they will get a comprehensive look at the possibilities and constraints that inform decision making for a major exhibition and learn transferable skills that will help prepare them to embark on careers in archives, museums, and heritage sites.

Course registration is currently open. Those interested can learn more about the class here and can register in Wolverine Access.

The dynamic course is just one way students can become involved with operations of UMMA. The Museum’s Student Engagement Council accepts new members early in the fall (each member receives a stipend for their participation), and a newly launched Guest Instagram Curator Program gives students $4,000 to build their own virtual exhibition in collaboration with artists and an UMMA Curator.

Cultural Heritage and Post-Genocide Memory in Cambodia (HISTART 497.005/HISTART 689.005)

Learn more about this upcoming course and register to participate.

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