Brief 2017-2018

The AA Museum Lab’s ongoing investigation of the role of museums and cultural institutions, their paradoxes and transformations will focus this year on the Mediterranean and its epicentre: Palermo. Selected as the 2018 Italian Capital of Culture and the venue for the nomadic Manifesta art biennale, this complex Sicilian city – once the destination of enlightened Grand Tourists; the target of severe bombing during the Second World War; home to the infamous “quadrangle of powers of politics, mafia, religion, aristocracy”; terminus of multiple waves of immigration; and a contemporary laboratory of global conditions – is the site of our unit project.

Aiming to reveal unknown practices of cultural production in the city and in the sites of origin/destination of its fluctuating and (at times) temporary population, students are invited to develop their thesis projects based on independent research and to articulate their findings through an expanding collection of work-books critically edited, designed and produced. Ultimately formatted in their own provocative media of choice, the individual projects will be presented in Palermo as part of a collective exhibition, an official collateral event of Manifesta.

Developed in close collaboration with Technical Studies, the choice of exhibition venue, design and construction of the installation and the analysis/manipulation of its architectural substance will be developed as a live project of the Diploma 15 “office”.

Innumerable abandoned and unfinished architectures that punctuate the urban landscape of Palermo – testaments to the city’s destruction, corruption and speculation – will be visited during the unit trip to Sicily to collectively choose the site of our curatorial intervention.

As in previous years, the unit programme will be enriched by numerous specialised visits and seminars. External collaborators will be invited to host regular workshops and to access the unit blog ( to maintain a close dialogue with the students throughout the year.