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…

Can what museums choose to exhibit or promote define the character of their cities?

Lately, I have been thinking about the relationship between museums and cities, and how museums support or impact their cities. As part of this exploration, I picked up Gail Lord and Ngaire Blankenberg’s recent book, Cities, Museums, and Soft Power. This book explores questions of cultural capital, and the ways in which museums wield power. The book makes…