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Elaine Heumann Gurian Speaks on the Role of Museums as Memorials May 7 at the Clark

For Immediate Release

April 17, 2006

International museum consultant Elaine Heumann Gurian presents “Museums as Memorials: From the Holocaust to 9/11, How Museums Help Us Understand Tragedy” on Sunday, May 7 at 2 pm. This thought-provoking and timely lecture, held in the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s auditorium, focuses on how museums serve as places to record and reflect upon tragic events. Admission is free.

The lecture will focus on museums as sites of history and metaphor. For example, Gurian will reflect on how the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum represents a specific tragedy that can also become symbolic of all genocides. Looking ahead, the future September 11 memorial museum may come to represent not only that tragic historical event, but broader issues of man's inhumanity to man and terrorism. These museums give context to abstract and powerful ideas and become a pilgrimage site for those seeking contemplation and spiritual closure.

Civilizing the Museum: The Collected Works of Elaine Heumann Gurian was published recently in paperback format. The book contains Gurian’s collected writings from the past 35 years exploring the possibilities for making museums more central and relevant to society. Gurian will sign copies of her book, available in the museum store, after her lecture.

Among her many honors, in 2004 the American Association of Museums awarded her the American museum community’s highest award, “The Distinguished Service to Museums Award.” Gurian is a consultant/advisor to a number of museums and visitor centers that are beginning, building, or reinventing themselves. Her clients include the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution; Nassau County Government museum systems, Museum of London, UK; the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution; National Children’s Museum, Washington DC; and the Pew Foundation, Philadelphia, PA. From 1991 to 1994, she was the Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission is free November through May. Admission June 1 through October 31 is $10 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu

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