Questions for an Open Cultural Institution: Thinking Together in Provocative Places
A Lecture by David Carr
Thursday, February 26th
S. Dillon Ripley Center, Lecture Hall
Free and open to the public
About the event:
Join us for a discussion with Dr. David Carr about the potential of, and challenges facing, a cultural institution in the modern age. Carr speaks, writes, and teaches about the value of cultural institutions as essential instruments for nourishing public imaginations in democratic societies. For thirty years, he has consulted in diverse American museums as an advocate for collaborative adult experiences with collections and ideas. Carr invites us to think with him about how an organization such as the Smithsonian can help ignite new ideas in its users and visitors and how those conversations can be continued long after the initial experience – regardless of whether that experience takes place in a physical or virtual space.
Museum staff, librarians, archivists and anyone interested in preservation, curation, interpretation or outreach related to scientific and cultural heritage are welcome. This event is free and open to the public.
Please rsvp by email to SILRSVP@si.edu if you plan to attend.
An ASL Interpreter will be available. The lecture will be webcast and recorded. The live link will be: http://library.si.edu/webcasts/live
This lecture series is made possible through a collaboration between the Smithsonian Libraries, Smithsonian Institution Archives and the Smithsonian Office of the Chief Information Officer.
Lecture Abstract by David Carr:
The capacity of a rich cultural institution – like the Smithsonian Institution -- is both formidable and promising, as complex and daunting to its users as it is intriguing and convivial. It is also formative; great institutions transmit concepts of evidence and experience, inquiry and experiment. Museums, libraries and archives construct complex situations for understanding the possibility of knowing more. When a cultural institution proclaims an embrace of openness and clarity, the visibility of knowledge and the formative intentions of a rich collection expand. It can actively affect the future of knowledge and judgment among its present and virtual users, and awaken their tendency to reflect. How does an institution enact the values and practices of access and transmit them to users? How can the conversations begun here – and the reflections that follow these beginnings – serve the intellect of the nation? How might these conversations continue for us?
David Carr speaks, writes, and teaches about the value of cultural institutions as essential instruments for nourishing public imaginations in democratic societies. Following several years of school-teaching, university reference service and professional bibliography, he taught librarianship on two university faculties (Rutgers University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), emphasizing collection building, popular reading, and the exploration of reference tools. For thirty years, he has also consulted in diverse American museums as an advocate for collaborative adult experiences with collections and ideas. He has written three books: The Promise of Cultural Institutions (2003), A Place Not a Place (2006) and Open Conversations (2011), among numerous other publications.
An archived version of Dr. Carr's talk is now available here: http://library.si.edu/webcasts/david-carr-questions-open-cultural-institution. In addition, below you may find a .pdf file of his talk as well as "Strands: Continuities and Possibilities of One Life", from Dr. Carr's book Open Conversations: Public Learning in Libraries and Museums (2011), which he references in his lecture.