The dining hall can be a very dull place to eat lunch, but never fear, the University of Michigan Museum of Art has a solution. As part of the museum-themed year at the University, students in the Museum Studies Program are invited to speak about their work in the “Brown Bag Series,” during which listeners can eat their lunches while they listen and learn.

Andrea McDonnell

Tomorrow at 12 p.m.
UMMA Multi-Purpose Room

Thursday, Andrea McDonnell, a Rackham graduate student in communication studies and museum studies, will be discussing the role of a non-collecting art institute in society.

McDonnell originally studied American culture at Vassar College in New York and worked at an art museum during and after her studies. Realizing she wanted to teach art and popular culture, she came to the University in order to fulfill her goal.

“I just completed my Museum Studies Certificate Program, and as part of this program you’re required to do a practicum, which is basically an internship at an arts institution,” McDonnell said. “Last summer I was an intern at The Gallery Project in downtown Ann Arbor. They’re a non-collecting arts institute, so they don’t own any works of art. Everything is contributed based on what particular show is happening at the time.”

Her lecture, “The Empty Vessel Makes the Loudest Sound: New Museology and the Promise of the Non-Collecting Art Institution,” speaks to her experiences during her internship and what she has learned from The Gallery Project.

“The Gallery Project is an empty vessel in that it doesn’t have its own collection. It doesn’t bring any particular artist or artworks to the table so to speak,” McDonnell explained. “I would like to argue that it’s a positive thing, as it helps the gallery to make meaningful exhibits and be more flexible and innovative than they would be able to if they had a permanent collection.”

Aside from explaining the importance of this museum, McDonnell will also reveal the other functions of The Gallery Project.

“I’m going to be talking about how the gallery works with other organizations to hold fund-raising events, such as The Cupcake Station and a local band called the Chris Canas Connection,” McDonnell said. “This was actually supposed to be their last month in operation, but they were able to raise enough money to stay in operation for two more years.”

McDonnell hopes to attract a large variety of people to her lecture, and also to promote The Gallery Project’s next fund-raising event, its sixth birthday party, so it can continue to serve its purpose in the city.

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