Chen SHEN 沈辰
Royal Ontario Museum

Transformation of Curatorial Research in Today's Public-Facing Museums

Entering in the 21st century, public interests in museums' collection and research have dramatically changed, resulting in increase of demands for more public programme, gallery interventions, and social network interactions. Today, many museums have begun to revisit their mission statements and to implement strategic plans towards the rebranding of these public-facing institutes. In this talk, I will briefly introduce the current on-going strategic planning at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), with a focus on changes of curatorial research and collection management. As a diversified disciplinary and traditionally research-oriented institute such as ROM, the Canada's largest World Museum, where research and collection include World Cultures and Natural History, one of these challenges in curatorial division lies on the facts that the public was less informed with what curators actually do at their best in cutting-edge research, and that they are less inspired by history and contents of the collection on display at galleries and exhibitions, not to mentioned those accounting 90% of collection in storage. ROM's new eight "Centres of Discovery" are created to highlight areas of curatorial expertise, which invite active engagements in public programs and educations. With increasing use of mobile and social network technologies and applications in museums' exhibitions and galleries, we need to ask this question: what roles of curators would play positively within multi-faceted and multi-directional out-reach programs at the same time being able to retaining their own research interests and quality, academic freedom and dignity. Transformation of curatorial research in today's public-facing museums is not to abandon and alter what curator do at their best interests and ability in order to accommodate general public interests, instead internationally-recognized curatorial research could be more celebrated once their works are presented in context of relevance to current events and issues of global changes. It is curatorial research and collection that will re-build a museum as an essential destination for making sense of the changing natural and cultural worlds.

21世紀以來,公眾對博物館藏品研究及展示的興趣驟變,隨之而來的是對博物館提供更多公眾項目、展廳互動和社交網路互動的期待和要求。如今,眾多博物館開始重新檢視自身的辦館總旨,並通過策略性的改變來重新定義和解釋這一類面向公眾的學術文化機構。在這次報告中,我將通過集中討論藏品研究和藏品管理方面的改變,扼要地介紹皇家安大略博物館現正施行的一系列策略性改變。皇家安大略博物館是一所包涵眾多學科的研究型博物館。作為加拿大最大的世界性博物館,它研究並收藏涵蓋世界各地的文化和自然歷史。然而,博物館的學術研究部門面臨的挑戰基於這樣一個事實,即公眾對博物館研究人員的前沿性研究成果知之甚少,而正因如此,公眾對博物館展出的藏品的獨特歷史內涵無法進行更深入的瞭解,遑論那些博物館庫房中另外90%的收藏品。皇家安大略博物館新推八個「發現研究中心」(Centres of Discoveries),旨在強調基於博物館藏品的研究,在公眾項目和教育方面鼓勵積極的參與和互動。隨著博物館展覽中移動設備和社交網路技術的應用日漸頻繁,我們需要自問:甚麼是博物館研究館員積極的職責所在?在多元的博物館拓展專案中,研究人員如何能同時保持自身的研究興趣、研究品質、學術自由和學術尊嚴?在當今日益面向公眾開放的博物館中,藏品研究的轉型並非意味著館員必須為了迎合公眾的趣味而拋棄或轉變其擅長的研究興趣和才能。相反,只要能在與社會變遷之時事與問題的相關性情境中呈現研究人員的學術研究,那麼,受到全球範圍內學界認可的基於博物館藏品的研究必將享有更深遠的聲譽。最終,恰恰是藏品研究和館藏文物將博物館轉型為一個極富創造性的重要目的地(destination),而這一場所同時又是參觀、學習和教育過程中不可或缺的指向性環節,使得公眾能夠藉此瞭解和認識當前瞬息萬變的自然世界和文化世界。