ROM Ideas: Contemporary Culture

Posted: May 1, 2014 - 15:55 , by Amanda Girgis
ROM Ideas, formally know as the Colloquium

To let you in on the latest insights and discoveries from behind the scenes, ROM Ideas, formerly the ROM Colloquium invites its patrons to step into the realm of ROM researchers, technicians, and other experts who perform ground-breaking work in our labs, collections areas, and at field sites all around the world.  This free two-day event (May 3rd & 4th) highlights the latest global discoveries and ongoing research within each of our eight Centres of Discovery, delivered in TEDx-style 12-15 minute talks. The eight centers work collaboratively to capture the ever-changing natural and cultural worlds we live in, and to help you, our audience, understand these changes. Each Centre is animated by expert collections and research staff, programmers, educators and communications people who create public programs that offer memorable visitor experiences and build partnerships across communities.

On May 3rd, the Center of Contemporary Culture will join the Museum in unpacking their research initiatives. ROM Contemporary Culture is a centre for innovation that provides insights and inspiration to help our community make sense of the modern world and connect with one another—they work diligently to link the past to the present through the creation of new content and experiences related to the ROM’s collections. Through the leadership of Ann Webb, Managing Director of ROM Contemporary Culture, they use an imaginative, experimental, and eclectic approach to explore new ideas and new technologies to raise provocative questions about the natural world, living cultures, and the creative mind. Here’s a sneak peak of what you’ll hear at ROM Ideas:

How do you see contemporary culture reflected in ROM's collections and research histories?

Depali Deewan, Senior Curator (South Asian Arts & Culture) : While the ROM has a long history with archaeology and ancient artifacts, in reality much of ROM's collection comes from the 20th century. These include insect specimens collected by ROM scientists on their last fieldwork trip, to ritual artifacts belonging to traditional communities. Ultimately, all ROM research addresses contemporary questions, even if those questions are asking about what happened in history. Knowing more about history allows us to understand better our lives today and the world around us. 

Silvia Forni, Curator (African Cultures): In addition, when exhibited, collections engage the public in a dialogue that creates a strong link between history and contemporaneity. Contemporary identities are often grounded on a sense of history and belonging that may be elicited through the connection with historical collections from different parts of the world.  Learning about the past, about continuities and transformations, may increase our awareness of contemporary issues.

How does contemporary art shape the way we see the world of the past and today?

Depali Deewan, Senior Curator (South Asian Arts & Culture): Artists who create art meant to be displayed in museums and galleries try to inspire viewers to think differently about the world. Often the art work comes out of their own experiences but presents a different perspective on issues relevant to our lives.

Ann Webb: Art of our time (contemporary art) shows us our world anew. Contemporary artists and thinkers are harbingers of the future. It is through their creativity and vision that we are able to find linkages to the past that connect ideas, issues and the humanity as they show us new ways of thinking and being in the world.