FILE PHOTO: In a previous global engagement portal on campus several years ago, political science students spoke with a group of residents from Jordan. (Lee Pellegrini)

Visitors to the McMullen Museum of Art “Landscape of Memory: Seven Installations from the Barjeel Art Foundation (Sharjah, UAE)” exhibition can enhance their experience with a real-time global conversation—without leaving the building.

The museum is home this semester to the “McMullen Portal,” a videoconferencing chamber located in the third-floor Monan Gallery. These portals are interconnected, immersive audiovisual environments that allow visitors to converse with those in a distant portal—in Mexico, Ethiopia, and India, among other locations—as if they were in the same room.

The museum is now offering free docent tours of the exhibition every Sunday from 2-2:30 p.m., followed by an approximately 50-minute session in the McMullen Portal. According to organizers, the portal dialogues will explore the “Landscape of Memory” exhibition’s themes of identity, exile, and memory.

This Sunday will feature Mexico City resident Maya Burns, a feminist Mexican folk singer who challenges the Ranchero style of music by injecting a feminist edge to this traditionally “machismo” musical genre. The February 26 event will explore how the Walkers Institute for Regenerative Research and Design moves from activism to adaptation, applying design principles to create nature-based solutions to build habitat, increase biodiversity, and sequester carbon while reconnecting the community to nature through both agrotourism and other educational experiences.

The museum is inviting BC faculty and student groups to reserve sessions in the portal; a listing and description of portal connections as well as links for registering are available at

Boston College has been a frequent landing place for the portals, which are designed and hosted by Shared_Studios. During some recent semesters, including last fall, a portal has been located outside O’Neill Library and utilized by University faculty and students to connect with individuals and communities across the world. These sessions have featured conversations with Rwandan environmental activists; Iraqi, Kurdish, and Syrian refugees and displaced persons; and Afghan teenage boys, who enthusiastically discussed video games, music, and movies.

Sean Smith | University Communications | February 2023