Here’s a glimpse of museum-related articles and blog posts that impacted us this month. What have you enjoyed reading?
– The Weight of White People in the World: This blogpost, authored by Clayton Lord, uses data about audience representation in Bay Area theaters as a springboard to discuss the lack of diversity in the arts more broadly. This post, along with the comments it has generated, raises many questions about the role and responsibility of traditional arts organizations in serving more diverse segments of their communities along with the (im)possibility of these organizations to truly connect to culturally diverse groups’ aesthetic and creative preferences. What do you think?
– The Problem with Unpaid Internships: While the fact that unpaid internships represents a class issue is old news, this article is a good reminder that our fields’ reliance on non-remunerated workers might come at the cost of greater diversity. Moreover, this article problematizes the fact that most unpaid interns tend to be female. (Source: The Atlantic)
– Pop-Up Experimentations: This week, the Center fo the Future of Museums hosted two groups’ experience with pop-up initiatives: 1) The Uni Project and its mobile, temporary, pop-up reading room and 2) the Durham History Museum who’s been experimenting with pop-up museums as a way to try out new ideas and engage with the community. We think these initiatives address many barriers to museum engagement and hold great potential for building bridges between museums and more diverse segments of our communities.
– Free dental clinics in a museum?: The Sloan Museum in Flint, Michigan recently hosted a free dental clinic in conjunction with its exhibit “Sesame Street Presents: The Body.” According to the article, this initiative met an important community need. In reading this story, we were reminded of Elaine Heumann Gurian’s article “Museums as Soup Kitchens” in which she asks the following question: ” How do we expand our services so that we make museums’ important physical assets of safe civic space and objects useful for tangible three-dimensional learning into more relevant programs that reach all levels of community, and are rated by many more as essential to their needs and their aspirations for their children?” Thought? (Source: The Flint Journal)
- Family ejected from Paris museum because of “their smell”: This article, while sad and infuriating, raises important questions about our commitment to inclusion–what happens when the intentional inclusion of some creates tensions within the institution and upsets others? What is our role and responsibility to advocate for our less privileged audiences? Are we public institutions only in words but not in deeds? Do we truly hold objects in trust for ALL of society and its development or only for a few?
– Round up of recent news on accessible design: The Centre for the Future of Museums put together a useful list of resources and institutions exploring ways of making both physical and digital content more accessible in museum contexts. Included in this list, you’ll find Lisa Jo Rudy’s autisminthemuseum.org, which was also recently featured on our blog.
-To end on an inspirational note, we enjoyed reading Shareable’s Six Habits of Highly Empathic People and believe many points brought up in this article are applicable to the work of social inclusion in museums.
More next month!