The Museum Group proudly sponsored

Dr. Sherry Turkle
Founder and Director of the MIT Initiative
on Technology and Self

Dr. Turkle spoke on
Evocative Objects and the Museum Experience
as part of the Thought Leadership sessions at the American Association of Museum’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, Friday May 1, 2009

Museums are engaged in the presentation of evocative objects, objects that bring together thought and feeling, passions and intellects.  Dr. Turkle says, “We think with the objects we love and we love the objects we think with. Understanding the dynamics of evocative objects helps us to better understand the nature of the curatorial enterprise.”

Dr. Turkle’s explored these ideas by:

  • Talking about how she got interested in objects, museums, and the role of “objects-to-think-with” in the enterprise of museums.
  • Presenting a set of ideas, some from the psychodynamic tradition (transitional objects, transformational objects), and some from anthropology (the power of bricolage, or tinkering) that present new views on what makes objects evocative.
    • Presenting two case studies of people who used confrontations with art to think through and work through larger issues. These cases break down the boundaries between art and science and raise the question of what happens to an object when it is brought into digital space. A question of crucial interest to curators—What is gained and what is lost?

To read a recent profile of Dr. Turkle in the New York Times

To read Dr. Turkle’s paper The Secret Power of Things We Hold Dear

Dr. Sherry Turkle, Founder and Director, MIT Initiative on Technology and Self

Dr. Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT.  She founded the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self in 2001, a center of research and reflection on the evolving connections between people and artifacts. Professor Turkle received a joint doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University and is a licensed clinical psychologist.

Professor Turkle is the author of Psychoanalytic Politics: Jacques Lacan and Freud’s French Revolution (Basic Books, 1978; MIT Press paper, 1981; second revised edition, Guilford Press, 1992); The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit (Simon and Schuster, 1984; Touchstone paper, 1985; second revised edition, MIT Press, 2005); and Life on the Screen:  Identity in the Age of the Internet (Simon and Schuster, November 1995; Touchstone paper, 1997), and Simulatons and their Discontents (MIT Press, Spring 2009)

Seminars at the Initiative on Technology and Self led to three edited collections, all published by the MIT Press, on the relationships between things and thinking. The first volume, Evocative Objects: Things We Think With, was published in Fall 2007. The second volume, Falling For Science: Objects in Mind, appeared in Spring 2008. The third volume, The Inner History of Devices, followed in Fall 2008. Professor Turkle is currently completing a book on robots and the human spirit based on the Initiative’s 10-year research program on relational artifacts.

Professor Turkle has written numerous articles on psychoanalysis and culture and on the “subjective side” of people’s relationships with technology, especially computers. She is engaged in active study of robots, digital pets, and simulated creatures, particularly those designed for children and the elderly as well as in a study of mobile cellular technologies. Profiles of Professor Turkle have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Scientific American, and Wired Magazine. She is a featured media commentator on the effects of technology for CNN, NBC, ABC, and NPR, including appearances on such programs as Nightline and 20/20.

Dr. Sherry Turkle spoke aboutEvocative Objects and the Museum Experience,
Friday, May 1, 2009
at the AAM Annual Meeting, Philadelphia Convention Center.