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Sunday, April 4, 2010

ACCESS and Artwork

The ACCESS main building located in the South end of Dearborn, on Saulino Court, has recently been completely renovated. ACCESS called upon our Curatorial Department last winter to help with filling up some of the bare wall space with artwork, photographs and other artifacts.

After many hours spent selecting the works; figuring out which frames to use; ordering the frames and booking our favorite art handlers, ARTPACK SERVICES INC, to come out and help us hang the works, the process is finally underway. So far, our mission has been partially completed, there is more to be done and more works to select but below is a glimpse into what has been going on as far as artwork mounting. Do stay tuned to see more of what will be selected in the near future, and for updates on how things are looking at the main building. Or, you could always stop by and take a tour of the building!

Our friend from ARTPACK .

The Sari Khoury mural returns home!

Seventy five SURA photographs lined up in the hallways!

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Monday, February 1, 2010

From Mocha to Latte - Review of the first weekend

From the beginning of planning process for this exhibit we wanted to be able to give people coffee. We don't have a museum cafe, nor regular volunteers to man the coffee machine, so this was a major logistics problem.

What we did have was a Green Room connected to the Auditorium stage and the Lower Level Gallery that was usually off-limits to the public. Almost five years ago it was kitted out with a nice couch, small dining table, refrigerator, sink and cabinets. We decided this is what we could work with to build our mini-cafe for this exhibit. We would rearrange some furniture, clean out the fridge, add coffee related wall decor, and SOMEHOW dispense coffee. That "somehow" vexed us for a long time.

We didn't want to leave a pot of filter coffee on a burner all day (yucky burnt old coffee? no thank you!) We couldn't really afford a coffee vending machine (would have needed to rearrange some plumbing! Yikes!) And like I said, we don't get regular volunteers or docents to staff the room. It had to be something that visitors could do on their own, with as little mess as possible.

Finally, we discovered the Pod Brewer! Pod Brewing coffee machines come in a variety of styles, price points and functionality. We got a supplier (Paramount Coffee Co) for both the machine and the pods. We wanted to be as "green" as possible and went with the filter pods (which will be composted) instead of the plastic cup pods which are quite wasteful (and expensive!).

The exhibit opened on Thursday, January 28, 2010. It was very well received by all but due to the Global Thursdays event happening the same night, the cafe was closed for the first two opening days. Saturday would be its public debut! When less staff was around to watch over it! What would it look like on Monday morning?!

Countering my biggest fear, the Green Room-come-Qawah Cafe was not torn to bits! There was apparently an explosive packet of hot cocoa mix, but that was minor and cleaned up this morning.

We love to get feedback and find that sometimes simple works wonders. So on the table we added index cards, pencils and prompted with "How do you take your coffee?" Guests could fill out a card and stick it to the fridge with magnets provided. I was thrilled to see we already have some fun responses!

I am really proud of our team and how this exhibit has come together. I think it is one of the most fun things we've done here. It's not a super serious or political topic, it's not art on a wall, it's not too look-but-don't-touch (well, the artifacts are encased in plexi). I hope we can continue to emphasize the "fun" element in other things we do. I think it will really resonate with visitors and keep them coming back.

Have you been to From Mocha to Latte? What did you think? How do you take your coffee?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

ahlayn wa sahlayn wa marhabtayn

Yesterday morning at 10 am, the Curatorial team selected the artwork to be displayed in the "Living in America" exhibit. The call for artists was posted and distributed last September. Our goal was to fill up an empty case the Ahlan wa Sahlan case, which in Arabic means Welcome! There are several variations to the term which basically all mean the same: ahlan wa marhaban, ahlan, marhaban, marhabtayn, ya ahlayn..... It is most likely that if you visit an Arab home, you would hear all or most of the variations in one sitting!
So, we are pleased to announce that we have some wonderful new additions to enhance that section of our gallery. Art work that will be displayed includes works by the following artists: Helen Zughaib, Sami Tabet, Amal, Alya Husseini, Fayeq Oweis, Hayat Gul, Sam Hassan, Jarie Saad Ruddy and Dr. Michell Shamat. We are ever so grateful to our wonderful artists for their support of the AANM and for their kind donations. At this time, our artists are getting ready to deliver the artwork but below are some examples of what is to come, so, make sure you stop by the AANM very soon and if I see you there, I am sure to greet you with Ahlan wa Sahlan! :)

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Friday, January 8, 2010

From Mocha to Latte

Happy New Year Blogosphere!

The New Year is great for new beginnings and the AANM is kicking off the year with a new exhibit, From Mocha to Latte: Coffee, the Arab World and the $4 Cup (opening at 5:30pm January 28th in the Lower Level Gallery).

The exhibit explores the Arab World origins of coffee, it's spread through Europe and it's lasting impacts on the entire world. Visit my Flickr Gallery for a sampling of what you might see and learn!

Flickr User Photo Credits:
Top, L-R = Bsivad and blhphotography
Bottom, L-R = Nadjib and jakeliefer

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Curator vs. the Komodo Dragon

Is anybody listening? Does anybody care?

Every now and then, when I want to remind myself of what I am suppose to be doing at the museum, or perhaps when I simply want a good chuckle, I will take a listen to Bob and Ray.

They may not be in the same class as Aristotle, Shakespeare, Gibran, or Oprah, but these old sages do make me laugh. Their classic routine The Komodo Dragon touches on issues that preoccupy me in my daily work: the role of the expert, relevance of our message to our audience or our community, and the bi-lateral nature of effective communication. Are the curator and community both on the same page?

Curators are supposed to be experts, but especially in a community-based museum, our expertise derives in large part from a deep understanding of our audience as well as our subject. After listening to Bob and Ray again, I am thinking of a Komodo Dragon Test to help me gauge the value of new accessions and new exhibits. Is the subject relevant; is my message clear?

Is anybody listening? Does anybody care? In a community-based museum that can be the difference between filling dead air and making a difference.

Use these links link to hear Bob and Ray's The Komodo Dragon:
Windows Media

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Connecting Communities: Up and Running!

If you haven't yet ventured out to see our latest exhibit, Connecting Communities, I suggest you do so!

The exhibit deals with immigration in metro Detroit, by looking at the lives of nine local immigrants. We pair their stories with government-compiled statistical data in an effort to breakdown some misconceptions and negative stereotypes associated with immigrants.

YOU can also have your say in the debate! Visit our Social Media "Dashboard" to find out how your voice can be heard!

If you're camera-shy and/or don't use Social Media you can always comment RIGHT HERE! Think about answering these questions:

1. Do you know who, in your family, immigrated to the United States? When did they come here? Or, are you Native American Indian?
2. Do you think new immigrants should completely shed their native culture and traditions when they come to America? Why or why not?
3. Respond to this statement: America is a nation founded by immigrants and populated by immigrants and their descendents.
4. Why do you think immigration is such a hot-button issue these days?
5. How would you feel if you had to emigrate? What would you miss the most about America? What would you want to take with you?

Your contribution helps shape the exhibit and may appear in the gallery! So visit us often to hear what people have to say and share your thoughts too!

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Friday, October 16, 2009

We're Looking For A Curator!

Do you have the skills to conduct informed research? Would you like to have a major role working with a talented curatorial staff? If so, we have an opening for you! The Arab American National Museum is seeking a person to fill its vacant Curator of Community History position.

The AANM is the first museum in the world devoted to Arab American history and culture. By bringing the voices and faces of Arab Americans to mainstream audiences, we continue our commitment to dispel misconceptions about Arab Americans and other minorities. The Museum brings to light the shared experiences of immigrants and ethnic groups, paying tribute to the diversity of our nation.

The AANM is still relatively new. We have an energetic and talented staff, and we working with urgency to build this institution into something big! In its first few years the museum has become an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and an active member within the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. We have big goals for the next few years, and we seek a committed person who would like to help us grow the institution on a national level.

For more information on the position, visit the job listing on our parent organization's website.