Michelle DelCarlo doesn’t look like a troublemaker, but she’s determined to shake up the world of museology (the study of museums). In her opinion, museums are a space for bringing people together and building community, not just looking at exhibits in quiet contemplation. The premise of her Pop-Up Museum is simple: what if museums were all about the people visiting them? She explains the concept: “based on a theme, people are invited to bring their own objects and share their own stories in order to have conversations with others.”
In other words, instead of coming to a museum to look at curated artifacts, Pop-Up Museum visitors bring their own items and share the stories behind them. The end result isn’t much like a conventional art or history museum (it’s more like show and tell for grownups), but it is pretty Awesome.
Pop-Up Museums range from light-hearted reminiscing to serious, heart-felt discussions. They bring strangers together to talk about adoption, share handmade artifacts, tell their life stories, and more. The Pop-Up Museums that Michelle has run have been a huge hit, and people have started asking how they can run their own Pop-Up Museum. Since each instance of the museum only requires a few hours, a common space, and participants, it’s not hard to replicate successfully.
So far, everything Pop-Up has run on Michelle’s own blood, sweat, tears, and money. We’re jumping in to help with that last bit – with our grant money, Michelle can invest in more PR and work with the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History to put together mailable Pop-Up Museum kits to share with anyone interested in running their own museum.