On Public Displays of the Personal
For Dr. Brenda Trofanenko, Canada Research Chair in Education, Culture and Community, growing up in Calgary meant that every school year would be marked by numerous field trips to the Glenbow Museum. There she learned about the history of Western Canada, witnessed the diversity of First Nations through object displays, and sought to understand the personal stories found within the archives.
As a historian and educator with a specific interest in museums as educational institutions, Trofanenko continues to visit museums and other cultural heritage institutions to study how such institutions hold authority in defining who we are as individuals and as communities. She is particularly interested in how such institutions distinguish and define disciplinary knowledge.
Trofanenko is also interested in how museums and cultural heritage institutions are changing. Over the past 20 years, museums have begun to re-examine their public role. This has prompted museums to reconsider what defines culture, how it is displayed publicly and how they work with various groups they purport to represent. By examining their purposes, Trofanenko will investigate how museums are negotiating between their historically defined mandates and the societal forces that have prompted their establishment. She will also investigate how these institutions are utilizing digital technologies to shape the way knowledge is created, communicated and influenced by public museums.
Using the results of Trofanenko’s research, museums and cultural heritage institutions around the world will be able to re-evaluate their strategies, reconsider museums’ educational intent, and further develop working relationships with the various communities they seek to represent.