Promise and Potential in Liminal Spaces: The Prep-room in Curatorial Thinking at The NUS Museum

Siddharta Perez
Curator, National University of Singapore (NUS) Museum, Singapore.

Situating the university museum as a site of encounters, the NUS Museum accommodated what was considered as a “third mode” of presentation in its curatorial practices. Conceived in 2011, the prep-room explores curatorial methods that collaborate with research-centred creative practices. In its originary stages, the prep-room exposes the making of research and art practices as they crystallise into exhibitions, formalise as collection lots and offers pathways of co-creating curricula of university modules. The prep-room synergises discursive relationships between artworks, the archival and the artefactual. These aspects are considered within the frames of facilitation, acting alongside permanent collection exhibitions and temporary curatorial projects.

In recent years, the prep-room steps past the threshold of its model as facilitator-driven or confined within a specific laboratory “workspace” in the NUS Museum. As it garners traction as a method, the prep-room takes on a complex framework of attending to the multidisciplinary ethos of museological practice. The generative current of this model allows scalable approaches when museum works interface with its immediate university community: playing on simultaneous duplicity as learner and facilitator. An inherently multidisciplinary and collaborative approach, the prep-room is tasked with scalability as the university museum pivots to digital-centred practices. While it finds liminal homes in training platforms and microsite, it also attempts to address circulation, access, and feedback concerns. Amidst the prep-room’s generous, open-ended framework, this presentation reckons with how the legibility of the engagements materialise and impact a university museum’s communities. 

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