Last week, SAMA was invited to present at its second academic conference, this time with the University of Sheffield’s “Museums in Context and Partnership” conference in York, United Kingdom. I was delegated to represent our institution, and got to share how our museum is an experiment in the streets!
What makes SAMA unique is that it exists in the Nieuw West as a museum of the streets, with no walls, and with an interwoven connection to its neighborhood. I spoke of our goals to amplify the importance of enriching the relationship between the museum, the local community, and a global network (tourists). We explore local identity through the use of street art and create dialogue between urban stakeholders to create an exchange of knowledge.
SAMA’s presentation was met with positive feedback, and conference attendees were very intrigued by our museum’s model. By not having our collection exist within the walls of a building, we are able to do things that other places can’t. While speaking with some people afterwards, I learned that some places are trying to look for ways to use their spaces to fit their needs and hearing of SAMA inspired them.
Seeing how other heritage institutions are thinking of new and creative ways to be collaborative with their communities was so similar to SAMA. Every spot has its own unique needs, but at the heart of it are groups of passionate individuals that are using their environment and imaginations.
What I didn’t expect was to find that the issues we face aren’t unique, and there is a theme of cultural institutions trying to find their place. The advantage SAMA has is that we don’t have more formal restrictions on what we can and cannot do, and it’s something that we can use to our advantage as leaders in defining the future of street art museums and the social responsibility we have to our audiences.
I returned and see our living lab experiment in a new light, and am excited that SAMA is at the forefront of street art as heritage!