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Caroline Marie Duque’s dream for PH museums

We begin the year 2023 featuring a grantee of the Asian Cultural Council (ACC), Caroline Marie Duque. ACC Manila provides artists, scholars and arts professionals opportunities for transformative exchange between the Philippines and the United States, as well as the Philippines and the rest of Asia. Since 1963, ACC has supported 300 exchanges of individuals from the Philippines.

Caroline Marie Duque worked for UP Manila Museum of History of Ideas as a Culture and Arts Officer. She developed educational programs and was in-charge of the Collections Management. Caroline also worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, where she organized and redesigned art storage.

Duque at the Yale Peabody Museum conservation lab.

Duque at the Yale Peabody Museum conservation lab.

She is currently a researcher at the National Museum of the Philippines. She handles the extensive art and archival collection of Filipino artists who have immensely contributed in the development of Philippine arts.

We interviewed Caroline before the holidays and here is that interview.

What important aspect have you learned from the three institutions you’ve worked with? and is it helping you with your work now?

Working with a wide range of collections in these museums for the past decade, I learned the importance of museum objects and how museum professionals like myself have a critical role in protecting and conserving our national heritage, culture, and identity.

A lot of museums take their collections for granted without even realizing that they are the foundation of a successful museum institution and is vital in carrying out different museum programs. This in particular something that I am very passionate about and is what gives me the drive to raise awareness on the importance of properly caring for museum objects; to continue learning about new and innovative ways of mounting and storing objects in safe, practical and economical ways; and to work towards making our collections accessible not only through dynamic exhibitions and public programs, but as well as making them accessible to researchers through proper documentation and a well-managed database system.

How can a museum be child-friendly and create a welcoming atmosphere for them?

I believe that museums should be inclusive and accessible to a diverse audience. At the National Museum, we strive to make our exhibitions child-friendly by incorporating interactive and immersive components to our exhibitions. You would probably see most of these components in our National History building but all our museums create other programs catered for the younger demographic.

For example, we make sure that our exhibition curatorial texts are comprehensible for visitors as young as age 10; we install our objects at a comfortable eye level; and depending on the nature of the exhibition, we sometimes include reproductions of key objects that visitors can touch and feel. Moreover, our curatorial divisions conduct seasonal programs such as performance-led and storytelling tours, and art workshops for kids.

Caroline Marie Duque is an Asian Cultural Council grantee currently in the US to gain first-hand experience on best museum practices.
Caroline Marie Duque is an Asian Cultural Council grantee currently in the US to gain first-hand experience on best museum practices.

In the US I noticed many museums provide special exhibition guides for kids to make their visit less intimidating, more comprehensible, and enjoyable. Activity handbooks for kids are also provided. The activities could range from treasure-hunting to coloring and answering puzzles and quizzes about certain objects on display. It seems very effective in keeping kids focused and attentive while still making their visit educational as often see kids sitting or kneeling the floor while sketching or answering their activity and books. At the end, kids (and kids-at-heart) would get a simple token or souvenir as a reward. This way, they would have motivation to complete and later feel a sense of fulfillment from the activity. This is one of the things I want to develop for our Fine Arts Museum when I get back home.

What is the importance of an ACC grant. Could you briefly describe your ACC experience?

The ACC grant creates opportunities for researchers, artists, and professionals to further their knowledge in their respective fields through educational and cultural exchanges while deepening one’s understanding of foreign cultures while building international relationships.

With this grant, I am not only able to observe but more importantly, I am able to gain first-hand experience on best museum practices here and in the US. In the past five months, I have visited more than 50 museums and cultural institutions, and I have worked and conversed with key museum personnel from the Smithsonian Institution’s network of museums, the Museum of the Bible, the Yale Peabody Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery, the National Park Service’s Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island National Immigration Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

These exchanges have broadened my knowledge in museum practices specially in collections management, conservation, and exhibition production through the perspective of museums in a developed country. I also had the opportunity to share my knowledge with the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Washington DC when I gave their staff a special lecture- workshop on art handling.

I am also able to immerse in the American arts and culture scene having stayed in cultural hotspots like Washington DC and New York City. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience.

I still have about a month left to stay here in New York City, and dozens of museums left to see and observe, but I cannot wait to go back home and share my learnings with colleagues in the arts and culture sector.


For more information about Asian Cultural Council Philippines, email accphilippines@gmail.com


Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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