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How do we cultivate imagination?

Susana Gomes da Silva
Programmer, cultural mediator, teacher and consultant in the field of education in museums, she is currently in charge of education, mediation and participation at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s Centre for Modern Art (whose education service she created in 2002), where she is also an education programmer. From 2016 to 2021, she was in charge of the education programme at the Gulbenkian Museum (Modern Collection and Founder’s Collection). She is the author of several national and international publications. From 2020 to 2022, she taught the mediation and education in museums class in the scope of the master’s degree in museology at the Nova University of Lisbon. She likes to think that she is also a sort of midwife for education services, one of the tasks she most enjoys carrying out.
© Aline Belfort

How do the youngest generations look at the future? How do they look at themselves and how do they feel? What is behind those views and feelings? Do cultural organisations play a meaningful role in this regard? Or are they, on the contrary, far from these worries and processes? Can we cultivate imagination?
Following the ‘long tables’ that during the 2021 edition of the Materiais Diversos Festival brought youngsters to the centre of the discussion about—and in—the public space, we resume the debate to reflect with them upon the role of imagination in perceiving and building the future.
We invited Susana Gomes da Silva, from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s Centre for Modern Art (CAM), to open the debate. Through its Department of Education, Mediation and Participation, CAM has developed an increasing number of projects for and with a young audience, namely the Gulbenkian Imagina project, a cultural programming platform that makes way for dialogue and collaborative work between youngsters, artists and professionals from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.