Workshop: Curating the Medical Humanities (Legacy Event, Summer 2018)

This workshop will consider some of the ethical, intellectual and practical issues involved in curating medical humanities exhibitions, particularly in relation to questions of audience, accessibility, participation and public engagement. In academia, exhibitions are often pitched as a form of public engagement, but what notions of the ‘public’ are being invoked here, and what constitutes an authentic ‘engagement’? To address this question, we will bring together curators, artists, activists and academics from a variety of disciplines including English Literature, Art History, Museum and Disability Studies.

The workshop will encompass three main strands:

  1. Curating medical experience.
  2. Curating disability.
  3. Curating artworks produced in psychiatric, therapeutic, or other health contexts.

It will seek to address a number of inter-related research questions:

  • How do we conceptualise and define the ‘audience/s’ for the work being done in the medical humanities?
  • What constitutes a successful medical humanities exhibition?
  • How can exhibitions utilise notions of co-production, for example by working with constituent communities?
  • How can exhibitions inform or improve experience of health, as opposed to historicizing or critiquing them?
  • What are the reciprocal relationships between curatorial practice and the medical humanities (i.e. how might each challenge conceived ideas or practices)?

The workshop has developed out of the organisers’ experiences curating the exhibition Mr A Moves in Mysterious Ways: Selected Artists from the Adamson Collection, which will be shown at the Peltz in summer 2017.