Lisa Corrin presented in the Museum Conversations Seminar on Tuesday, November 7, at 6 pm. Her talk was entitled “The University Art Museum as a ‘State of Mind.’”

Since 2012, The Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University has been developing a new model for how a campus art museum “behaves” within the context of a research university. Exhibiting art across time and cultures, its approach involves placing art at the intersection of many fields of study to expand the possibilities for innovation, creativity, and reinterpretation. At the Block experiences of art are a springboard for discussion of issues and ideas in its schools of law, medicine, engineering, communications, journalism and, of course, arts and sciences. With the addition of a curator of public practice, the Block’s reach extends far beyond its galleries through the possibility of embedding artists and engagement programs in any Northwestern campus site—from classrooms to laboratories to practice halls and playing fields. With an emphasis on serving as a campus collaborator and convener, the Block has also become a catalyst for new forms of pedagogy. Finally, in keeping with a university’s core value of critical inquiry, the Block exhibitions and programs take on bold, big world topics and do not shy away from opportunities to generate dialogue between the campus and its surrounding communities. As a result, while the Block is small in size, it is having an outsized impact on teaching, learning, research, and town-gown relations. This talk will consider how a campus museum whose identity grows out of the DNA of a particular university and which leverages its braintrust—its faculty, students and its libraries—can help to transform the identity and culture of its parent institution.

The Block Museum of Art presents Otto Piene’s towering inflatable sculpture “Grand Rapid’s Carousel” (1979) at the opening of the Northwestern University Arts Circle (June 4, 2016). The work was featured in Charlotte Moorman’s 15th Annual Avant Garde Festival and shown in conjunction with the exhibition A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s.

Lisa Corrin is the Ellen Philips Katz Director of The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. Her previous positions include Director, Williams College Museum of Art, Deputy Director of Art/Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Seattle Art Museum, where she was the artistic lead for its new waterfront Olympic Sculpture Park, Chief Curator at the Serpentine Gallery in London, and Assistant Director/Curator of The Contemporary in Baltimore. She has published widely on contemporary art, public art, and critical museology. Her book Mining the Museum: An Installation by Fred Wilson was given the George Wittenborn Award by the North America Libraries Association in 1994. She has written extensively on Mark Dion’s work including contributing to Phaidon’s monograph on the artist. Most recently she was co-curator of A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s–1980s.