Beyond Museum Walls

The project Beyond Museum Walls: New Methodologies for Public Dialogue Around Difficult History and Cultural Conflict is designed to support the creation and mobilization of knowledge via new methodologies for critical museum-scholar-community engagement with difficult subject matter. Over four years, the project will generate critical dialogue and student training at the intersection of the five overlapping and separately funded research projects. The team of researchers represent all four Montreal-based universities:  Erica Lehrer (Concordia), Heather Igloliorte (Concordia), Jennifer Carter (UQAM), Cynthia Milton (Université de Montréal), Shelley Butler (McGill). With the help of a team of research assistants, the co-investigators will support the development, debate, and dissemination of shareable pedagogical tools to engage scholars and publics in critical, creative dialogue with museums. The project’s main locus will be Concordia University’s Curating and Public Scholarship Lab (CaPSL).


Meet the Research Team



1505310771274Erica Lehrer (PI)  is Associate Professor in the departments of History and Sociology‑Anthropology at Concordia University. She held the Canada Research Chair in Museum and Heritage Studies from 2007-2017 and is the author of Jewish Poland Revisited: Heritage Tourism in Unquiet Places (2013) and co-editor of Curatorial Dreams: Critics Imagine Exhibitions (2016), Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland (2015), and Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in Public Places (2011).




Shelley Ruth Butler (PhD York University) is a cultural anthropologist researching museums, curating, and heritage sites in Canada and South Africa. She co-edited Curatorial Dreams: Critics Imagine Exhibitions (2016), and facilitates Curatorial Dreaming workshops for researchers, museums professionals, and community groups. Her first book, Contested Representations: Re-visiting Into the Heart of Africa (1999 & 2011) is a widely taught ethnography of a controversial exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum.



Carter_Jennifer-011 (1)Jennifer Carter is Professeure of Nouvelles muséologies, patrimoines immatériels et objets culturels in the Département d’histoire de l’art at the Université du Québec à Montréal, where she teaches courses on the history and theory of museums. Jennifer conducts research in the areas of museology, representation, and architecture, and considers how these practices mediate, and are mediated by, the cultural institutions that frame them. A more recent research project takes up the emergent phenomenon of human rights museology.



Heather IgloliorteHeather Igloliorte is an Inuk scholar and independent curator who holds the University Research Chair in Indigenous Art History and Community Engagement at Concordia University. Heather’s research and curatorial practices center on Inuit and other Native North American visual and material culture, circumpolar art studies, performance and media art, the global exhibition of Indigenous arts and culture, and issues of colonization, sovereignty, resistance and resurgence.



Milton photo - Lena DietschCynthia Milton is Professor of Latin American History the Université de Montréal. Her interdisciplinary research studies TRCs and alternative modes of truth-telling, and artistic representations and cultural interventions in the constructions of historical narratives in the aftermath of state violence and in the era of human rights. Major honours include the Bolton Johnson Prize for the best book published in her field. She is presently the President of the College the Royal Society of Canada.



Knowledge Mobilization Fellows:

Sarah Jane (SJ) Kerr-Lapsley is a PhD candidate in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill, and a Vanier scholar. She holds an honours degree in sociocultural anthropology from UBC, and an MA in Education from McGill. Her current research focuses on communities of practice in education, and the pedagogical relationships that form between social studies teachers and external resources, such as museums and community organizations. SJ’s research interests include pedagogical communities of practice, historical thinking, curating difficult knowledge, and land based education.

Alex Robichaud completed her Masters in Museum Studies at the University of Toronto, and has a B.A. in History from Concordia University. Alex’s research focus has been on photography, feminist studies and critical curatorial frameworks/exhibition practices. Alex worked with students and curators from the Art Gallery of Ontario to co-curate the The Darkroom Project: Taloyoak, 1972-73 at the Ryerson Image Centre (2017) and published the subsequent article: Critical Issues in Exhibiting Indigenous Photography


Research Assistants:

IMG_20170918_130002 - María Juliana ABMaria Juliana Angarita Bohorquez has a B.A. in International Relations from Rosario’s University (Bogota, Colombia), an MA in Museology at UQAM, and is currently a PhD student in Museology at UQAM, under the supervision of Professor Jennifer Carter. Her research explores the construction of Colombia’s National Museum of Memory, focusing on the challenges faced by the museum professionals (curators, museographers, architects) responsible for adapting an institutional mandate sanctioned through national law to the design of a national memorial and human rights museum.


Cambridge_SimoneSimone Cambridge is a researcher and curator born in Nassau, Bahamas. Her research examines transatlantic slavery, Caribbean identity, postcolonialism, and race in visual culture and curatorial theory. She holds a BA from McGill University in Art History and International Development with a minor in Urban Systems Geography. She has received the 2016 All Bahamas Merit Award (The Bahamas Ministry of Education), the 2018 Archie Malloch Award for Public Learning (McGill University), and the 2019 Arts Undergraduate Research Award (McGill University). Her research has been published by the McGill University Department of Art History and Communications and the Journal of Black Canadian Studies. Simone is an Advisory Board member for the Institute for the Study of Canadian Slavery at NSCAD University, Research Assistant and Communications Coordinator at Concordia University’s Curating and Public Scholarship Lab, and the Curatorial Assistant of Seascape Poetics.



Alexandra Nordstrom is a PhD student in the Department of Art History as well as a recipient of the Renata Hornstein Graduate Fellowship in Art History at Concordia University. Her current research examines how craft practices and Indigenous methodologies can be mobilized together as agents of activism. Alexandra completed her BA in Art History at the University of British Columbia where she was awarded the Trek Excellence Scholarship for Continuing Aboriginal Students.



Daphnée Yiannaki is a PhD student in Museology at UQAM and is interested in the exhibition of contemporary artists as part of museums’ decolonization process. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and English, a Master’s of Museology, and a Master’s of Art History, for which she studied the exhibition of contemporary Native American artists in museums in the United-States.

Previous Research Assistants:

Myriam Gerber

Myriam Gerber is a PhD student in the history department at Concordia University. Born in Germany, her research focusses on unmarked mass graves of the Holocaust in Central and Eastern Europe. Myriam’s dissertation investigates the complex layers of memory and silence surrounding an unmarked mass grave related to the former BMW forced labor camp in Allach, a sub-camp of the former concentration camp Dachau. Her research challenges meta narratives of a “mastered” past as it is represented in the context of the Gedenkstaette Dachau.expand

Myriam holds a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology (University of Victoria, British Columbia) and an interdisciplinary M.A. in Visual Anthropology and Holocaust Studies (University of Victoria, British Columbia) as well as a Graduate Professional Certificate in Cultural Heritage Studies (University of Victoria, British Columbia). Myriam is a Research Assistant in the project “Beyond Museum Walls: New Methodologies for Public Dialogue Around Difficult History and Cultural Conflict” as well as an affiliate student at Concordia’s Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS).



Sally Hough is a fourth-year joint honours African and Middle Eastern Studies student at McGill University. After spending a summer working on anthropological field research in Kenya, she undertook an independent research project comparing the African Art exhibits at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Gallery of Ontario. This project led her to an internship at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), working under the curator of African Art. At the MMFA, she researched the exhibition of African Art, Black diaspora art and difficult histories in North American and European museums. She is excited to now be a part of the Beyond Museum Walls team as Prof. Butler’s research assistant.


Danielle Aimée Miles Danielle Aimée Miles is a graduate student at Concordia University in the Art History Department under the supervision of Professor Anne Whitelaw, finishing her Master’s Thesis. Danielle’s present research revolves around the institution of Encyclopedic museums in Canada and the exhibition of Classical Antiquity. Her writing applies postcolonial methodologies, critical museology, and narratology, to analyze, but also theorize, innovative approaches to exhibiting collections acquired and presented through outdated and problematic ideologies.expand

The relationship(s) between critical museological theory, display practices, and collecting tendencies are at the very heart of Danielle’s research. Art practices that engage with institutional critique and ideas of subversion are of a particular interest as well. She has worked as a Teaching Assistant in postcolonial methodologies, as well as a Research Assistant to Professor Anne Whitelaw, researching the influence of women’s volunteer groups within Montreal art museums and the collection and development of Canadian Contemporary art practices. Presently, Danielle is working as a Research Assistant for Dr. Heather Igloliorte on the FQRSC funded Beyond Museum Walls project.


Anne-Marie Reynaud

Anne-Marie Reynaud is a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Research on Ethics. She is doing research on the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission and visual media. In 2016 Anne-Marie completed her PhD in Anthropology at the Freie Universität Berlin, where she also worked as a Research Associate and Program Coordinator for the M.A. Visual and Media Anthropology from 2008 until 2010. 



Marilou Thomassin

Marilou Thomassin studied photography at Champlain College in St-Lambert and proceeded to McGill University in Montreal to complete her bachelor’s degree in art history and education. Recipient of the 2016 “National Student Research Competition” at the National Association of African American Studies and Affiliates, Marilou is currently working on her master’s thesis at McGill University under the supervision of Dr. Charmaine Nelson. Her current work focuses on the representation of black children and the visual culture of slavery in New France.