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Under New Management: The Commodification of the Permanent Collection
April 24, 2021 - April 3, 2022
Under New Management: The Commodification of the Permanent Collection features works from Fuller Craft’s collection selected by guest curators and Boston-area artists Oliver Mak, Kenji Nakayama, and Pat Falco. Operating as a fictitious marketing company, MFN Integrated Solutions, the curatorial team aims to activate the collection while challenging the perception of museums through exhibition curation and design, including promotional posters created by artists/sign painters Nakayama & Falco as retail advertisements for each artwork. By reframing the works as commodities, the exhibition disrupts the oft-opaque nature of cultural institutions and offers new ways of looking at museum objects.
Oliver Mak, guest curator, Under New Management: The Commodification of the Permanent Collection
“How do we value works of art and contemporary craft? Why do we accept when an institution deems a
piece as museum-worthy? How do you interpret items from a permanent collection for a contemporary
audience? Under New Management: The Commodification of the Permanent Collection seeks to answer
The curatorial team—Kenji, Pat, and I—has long challenged the existing power structure within the arts
industry, subverting the hierarchy through our creative practices. And all three of us have roots in graffiti
and street art, which seek to eliminate the invisible barrier dividing art and audience, landlords and
serfs. Early on in our careers, Pat and I opened independent art spaces as a reaction to being outsiders
of the establishment.
When brought in to interpret Fuller Craft Museum’s permanent collection, we saw the lifelong fruits of
labor of the highest skilled artists in their respective fields. We were challenged to present these works
in a digital consumer age where every object and experience is filtered through your phone screen and
every individual is forced to be a personal brand with their own marketing campaign. Our solution was
to immerse ourselves in the thought-experiment of becoming the institution. To do so, we formed a
corporation called MFN Integrated Solutions and decided that Fuller Craft Museum would be our star
client, a case study in arts marketing, curation, and disruption.”
Beth McLaughlin, Artistic Director and Chief Curator, Fuller Craft Museum
“The heart and soul of collecting institutions are the objects under their care. These venerated items
have been carefully selected, preserved, exhibited, and stored—in some cases for centuries, or even
millennia. In recent years, institutional collections have made headlines, largely due to controversial
deaccessioning practices and representation inequities; while at the same time, museums have
come under fire for overly opaque and outmoded operations. As a result, the role of cultural
organizations within modern society is undergoing seismic shifts.
As the field thusly evolves, Fuller Craft Museum considers its own collection and the 800+ works in
its care. Developed by a team of guest and Fuller Craft Museum curators, the exhibition Under New
Management: The Commodification of the Permanent Collection asks audiences to consider multiple
lines of inquiry: What makes something precious or collectable? Who gets to assign value or worth?
How do perceptions change when these items are presented as museum objects versus household
By its very nature, craft is integral to our everyday lives as functional objects that sustain us. So, what
happens when these items become part of a museum collection, thereby treated as sanctified
entities, stripped of practical utility? And what if the artworks are then reframed as retail products
with the intent to (conceptually) reactivate their functionality? Unlike traditional museum exhibitions,
Under New Management may leave visitors with more questions than answers, and that’s ok. After all,
museums and their collections are meant to ignite our curiosity, challenge long-held norms, and
stimulate new ways of looking at the world around us.”