Yes, Museums Need to Step into the Future, but First We Must Acknowledge our Past

In his opinion piece in the New York Times on July 26, 2019, (Museums Need to Step into the Future) Ford Foundation President Darren Walker applauds museums’ greater involvement in social justice issues. And he calls for increased efforts toward diversity and inclusion.  Walker correctly takes a holistic approach, touching on hiring, collecting, exhibitions, and…

Serrell’s “Judging Exhibitions” in India

Broad use of the Excellent Judges Framework inside institutions, and advocacy of visitor-centered goals by exhibition professionals, just might make all of our jobs a bit easier—and the products of our efforts more effective—in the future.  Beverly Serrell.  2006 We’re over ten years into the future envisioned by Beverly Serrell, one of the most respected…

Children at the Border: Where Are Museums? Niños en la frontera: ¿Dónde están los museos?

On July 22, 2014, almost four years ago, I raised this issue on AAM’s  Future of Museums  blog: Unacompanied Children at our Borders:  Can Museums Help? It didn’t attract much attention, but this was before #museumsrespondtoFerguson, #MuseumsAreNotNeutral, Museums and Race, MASSAction, and countless other disussions and initiatives regarding museums’ engagement with and responsibility to the world outside…

The “Overlooked” Initiative: Lessons in Empathy from the New York Times

Yet who gets remembered — and how — inherently involves judgment. To look back at the obituary archives can, therefore, be a stark lesson in how society valued various achievements and achievers.   On March 8, 2018, the New York Times published a special Sunday supplement containing the photographs and beautifully written obituaries of some…

Monuments, Memorials, and Mascots: What is the Museum’s Role?

Racist images pervade our public spaces and mental landscape  If you missed the live feed of the symposium, Mascots, Myths, Memorials, and Memory on Saturday, March 3, you can still find the agenda on the program’s Facebook page, and a number of recordings of the talks on YouTube.  There is also a great summary of the day…

Thoughts on Museum Neutrality: What is the Conflict?

D’lo, Queer/transgender Tamil Sri Lankan-American Actor/Writer/Comedian Visitors of Color Tmblr   Can Museums Be Neutral? ,a post by Museum Questions blogger Rebecca Herz, galvanized museum discussions on Twitter and Facebook in December, 2017. The conversation died down over the holidays, but I’ve continued to reflect on some of the important questions that were raised. Earlier in the…

Thoughts on Museum Neutrality: A Question of Balance?

I’m still gathering my thoughts on the fast and furious Twitter conversation of the week of December 18, 2017, sparked by Rebecca Herz’s post, Can Museums Be Neutral?  While I’m working on my response I’d like to add to the discussion by publishing the thoughts of Dan Spock (formerly Director of the Museum at the…

MASSAction 2017: Decentering Whiteness

How to transform museums into places of greater inclusion and equity?  This is the key question of the MASSAction (Museum as Site for Social Action) initiative, begun in 2016 and coordinated out of the Minneapolis Institute of Art.     A few weeks ago 36 museums (art, history, science) from across the country gathered for…