Changing Museum Expectations of Space

The Reading + Reflection Room opens in the Museum

This fall, Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art, fondly known as MoA by the SMC community, opened a new space in the galleries. This space, referred to as the Reading + Reflection Room, is designed to illuminate connections between the art on display and the visitors’ experiences. Filled with tables, chairs, bean bags, and a book cart, the room provides resources to encourage visitors to stay awhile and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the artwork they are experiencing. 

A variety of reading materials, media, and activities expand the idea of what a visitor can do in an academic art museum. The selected books speak to a diverse audience. Visitors can retrace the steps of the artist, Kari Marboe, by browsing through the books she read to inspire her craft and her artistic response featured in Keith + Kari. One can also get lost in the pages of Inuit legends or read books on Cape Dorset. The curatorial approach to Collective Memories: Stonecuts from Cape Dorset is provided in a binder that holds related articles and wall text. A video playlist features Inuit films ranging from animated shorts and documentaries – enriching the larger cultural context around Cape Dorset and Inuit Canada. 

In the fall exhibition Keith + Kari, the questions of What has stayed the same? and What has changed? is central to the exhibition’s narrative. In the Reading & Reflection Room, this question is redirected towards the visitor. An installation activity asks the visitor, including students, faculty, and staff, how the landscape of the college has changed for them over the past year. Responses are shared through the gallery walls, with illustrations of masks, references to removed trees, and sentiments of gratitude at the thought of being home. The space provides a place for feelings and observations to be seen and acknowledged. 

The Reading + Reflection Room will be open during museum business hours: 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Wed-Sun through December 12, 2021. The museum would like to thank the Intercultural Center (IC) and the St. Albert Hall Library for their assistance in developing this space.