Can Museums Be Neutral?

A few months ago, Mike Murawski, in partnership with LaTanya Autry of the Mississippi Museum of Art and The Empathetic Museum, created t-shirts to support a “Museums are not Neutral” campaign. Murawski wrote, “Museums have the potential to be relevant, socially-engaged spaces in our communities.  Yet, too often, they strive to remain “above” the political and social…

What is the job of a culturally-specific museum?

This post is by Janine Okmin, Associate Director of Education at The Contemporary Jewish Museum, where she develops resources for schools and teachers, and trains museum tour guides. Formerly the Associate Manager of Learning Through Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Janine has led teacher workshops nationwide and in Taiwan. She has also developed programs…

Should museums be storytellers or truth-tellers?

What do museums have to say about, or learn from, recent events in Charlottesville? Museum leaders and professionals have shared statements condemning and consoling, from their position as community leaders. Bloggers and professional organizations have also shared resources, as museums take on the role of educators. Thankfully but not surprisingly, museums and museum professionals are advocates…

Why are children’s museums museums? – Take 3

For the past few months I have been working an article related to children’s museums, and thinking a great deal about the period from the 1960s to the 1980s, when children’s museums transformed from spaces with collections-based exhibits aimed at elementary school children into play spaces for the under-10 set. At first I understood this transformation as the…

What responsibility do museums have for shaping the public’s relationship with facts?

In March I had a conversation with an insightful colleague, Amy Boyle, an educator at the Guggenheim Museum. Amy suggested that open-ended interpretation might be problematic in a climate in which political discourse disregards facts, and candidates and supporters make up their own truths. I’m not sure I’ve captured the challenges and opportunities offered by this…