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Curating Topophilia: Exploring Personal and Emotional Connections in Contemporary Art

Project by Emily Bowden (2018)

The purpose of this project was to provide the Kirkland Arts Center in Kirkland, WA with a contemporary art exhibition that was accessible and relevant to the local community as part of the annual Emerging Curator Initiative collaboration between the University of Washington Museology Graduate Program and the Kirkland Arts Center. The resulting exhibition was Topophilia: A Sense of Place, A Sense of Feeling, and the goal of this project was to use contemporary art to challenge viewers to examine their own understandings of sense of place. The intended impact of the exhibition was to help viewers understand how significant places in their lives affected them. The exhibition assembled works in which artists portrayed places, both real and imagined, through abstract and altered perspectives. The exhibition also asked viewers to reflect on the pieces and their own experiences with significant places through a community curation wall, which included an art-making project depicting place and feedback cards that encouraged reflection and dialogue. Visitors found their visit to the exhibition to be a positive experience, and the pieces reminded them about a specific experience in their life, challenging them to reflect on their own understanding of sense of place.

Keywords: Class of 2018, museum studies, museology, museums, museum, exhibit, contemporary art, place, community curation


Bowden, E. (2018). Curating Topophilia: Exploring Personal and Emotional Connections in Contemporary Art. Unpublished master’s project, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.