Ever wonder what goes into designing and organizing an art exhibition? Through a new educational talk series, the Institute of Contemporary Art of the University of Pennsylvania (ICA) is sharing its behind-the-scenes knowledge with curious visitors.
Earlier this month, Charlotte Ickes, the Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow, discussed “Descent,” a show on view in the ICA’s Edna S. Tuttleman Gallery through Sunday, Aug. 14. Ickes introduced the exhibition and talked about finding contributing artists, as well as the process of deciding on the show’s title.
Informal in nature, the talks—dubbed the “Brown Bag Lunch Series”—take place from noon to 1 p.m. Participants are encouraged to bring food and “spend their lunch break with us,” says Maori Karmael Holmes, the ICA’s director of public engagement.
“The Brown Bag Lunch Series lets you get up close and personal,” says Holmes. “It provides an intimate opportunity to ask questions. … It’s a nice, casual environment to get in a curator’s head and figure out their process.”
Upcoming talks include one on Friday, June 3, at noon, with Chief Curator Anthony Elms, who will discuss “Rodney McMillian: The Black Show.” On Friday, June 10, also at noon, Associate Curator Kate Kraczon will feature “Open Video Call.” Registration to attend the talks isn’t required, but is suggested.
The idea for the talks came after Holmes joined the ICA in January as its first director of public engagement. She spent a few weeks reading through surveys, and realized how interested people were in learning about what happens backstage at the museum.
“There is so much work that goes into bringing a show together that we think people would be fascinated to learn about,” says Holmes, who plans to continue the Brown Bag Lunch Series in the fall. “It’s nice to now be able to unpack that process to the public.”
Plus, Holmes adds, it’s a good opportunity to help “bring more people into the ICA from Penn’s campus and the Philadelphia community at large.”
The ICA, at 118 S. 36th St., is open Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.