Museum Activism

Museum Activism

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Only a decade ago, the notion that museums, galleries and heritage organisations might engage in activist practice, with explicit intent to act upon inequalities, injustices and environmental crises, was met with scepticism and often derision. Seeking to purposefully bring about social change was viewed by many within and beyond the museum community as inappropriately political and antithetical to fundamental professional values. Today, although the idea remains controversial, the way we think about the roles and responsibilities of museums as knowledge based, social institutions is changing. Museum Activism examines the increasing significance of this activist trend in thinking and practice.





At this crucial time in the evolution of museum thinking and practice, this ground-breaking volume brings together more than fifty contributors working across six continents to explore, analyse and critically reflect upon the museum's relationship to activism. Including contributions from practitioners, artists, activists and researchers, this wide-ranging examination of new and divergent expressions of the inherent power of museums as forces for good, and as activists in civil society, aims to encourage further experimentation and enrich the debate in this nascent and uncertain field of museum practice.





Museum Activism elucidates the largely untapped potential for museums as key intellectual and civic resources to address inequalities, injustice and environmental challenges. This makes the book essential reading for scholars and students of museum and heritage studies, gallery studies, arts and heritage management, and politics. It will be a source of inspiration to museum practitioners and museum leaders around the globe.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 406 pages
  • 171 x 248 x 25.4mm | 848g
  • CRC Press Inc
  • Bosa Roca, United States
  • English
  • 35 Halftones, black and white; 5 Tables, black and white
  • 0815369972
  • 9780815369974
  • 21,962

Table of contents

List of Illustrations


Notes on Contributors


Preface


Acknowledgments





1 Posterity Has Arrived: The Necessary Emergence of Museum Activism


Robert R. Janes and Richard Sandell





Part 1 Nurturing Activism


2 Detoxing and Decolonising Museums


Sara Wajid and Rachael Minott


3 Growing an Activist Museum Professional


Elizabeth Wood and Sarah A. Cole


4 Dividing Issues and Mission-driven Activism: Museum Responses to Migration Policies and the Refugee Crisis


Maria Vlachou


5 Access as Activism: Bringing the Museum to the People


Catherine Kudlick and Edward M. Luby


6 Fossil Fuel Sponsorship and the Contested Museum: Agency, Accountability and Arts Activism


Paula Serafini and Chris Garrard


7 The Activist Role of Museum Staff


Victoria Hollows


8 From the Ground Up: Grassroots Social Justice Activism in American Museums


Laura-Edythe S. Coleman and Porchia Moore


9 Spectacular Defiance


Julie McNamara


10 `I'm Gonna Do Something': Moving Beyond Talk in The Museum


Bernadette Lynch


11 Feminism and the Politics of Friendship in the Activist Museum


Viv Golding





Part 2 Activism in Practice


12 Memory Exercises: Activism, Symbolic Reparation, and Non-repetition in Colombia's National Museum of Memory


Cristina Lleras, Michael Andres Forero Parra, Lina Maria Diaz and Jennifer Carter


13 Auto Agents: Inclusive Curatorship and its Political Potential


Jade French


14 Museums as Public Forums for 21st Century Societies: a Perspective from the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe


Njabulo Chipangura and Happinos Marufu


15 Museums in the Climate Emergency


Steve Lyons and Kai Bosworth


16 Activism, Objects and Dialogues: Re-engaging African Collections at the Royal Ontario Museum


Silvia Forni, Julie Crooks and Dominique Fontaine


17 Museological Activism and Cultural Citizenship: Collecting the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement


Selina Ho and Vivian Ting


18 Museums in the Age of Intolerance


Sharon Heal


19 Activist Practice Through Networks: A Case Study in Museum Connections


Mercy McCann


20 Whose Memories for Which Future? Favela Museums and the Struggle for Social Justice in Brazil


Marcelo Lages Murta


21 From Vision to Action: The Journey Towards Activism at St Fagans National Museum of History


Sioned Hughes and Elen Phillips


22 Inside out/outside in: Museums and communities activating change


Moya McFadzean, Liza Dale-Hallett, Tatiana Mauri and Kimberley Moulton


23 Quiet is the New Loud? : On Activism, Museums and Changing the World


Ashild Andrea Brekke


24 Heritage and Queer Activism


Sean Curran





Part 3 Assessing Activism


25 The Activist Spectrum in United States Museums


Dina A. Bailey


26 Up Against It: Contending with Power Asymmetries in Museum Work


Kevin Coffee


27 Taking a Position: Challenging the Anti-authorial Turn in Art Curating


Lynn Wray


28 Memory Activism and the Holocaust Memorial Institutions of the 21st century


Diana I. Popescu


29 Advocacy and Activism: A Framework for Sustainability Science in Museums


Sandra L. Rodegher and Stacey Vicario Freeman


30 Narratives of Transformation: Stories of Impact from Activist Museums


Jennifer Bergevin


31 Memorial Museums at the Intersection of Politics, Exhibition and Trauma: A study of the Red Terror Martyrs Memorial Museum


Bridget Conley


32 `I Attack this Work of Art Deliberately': Suffragette Activism in the Museum


Nicola Gauld


33 Museums, Activism and Social Media (or, how Twitter challenges and changes museum practice)


Jennie Carvill Schellenbacher


34 Unprecedented Times? Shifting Press Perceptions on Museums and Activism


Jenny Kidd





Index
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Review quote

'Museums have woken from their slumber. Here is a clarion call to leave behind the "immorality of inaction" and confront a troubled world, a threatened planet, and threats to cultural diversity, equality and justice. This volume documents the extraordinary range of ways in which museum activism, as an integral and necessary part of contemporary museum practice, is at work in the 21st century. Janes and Sandell marshal an impressive line-up of authors across the globe who are using the "civic resource" of the museum to bring about environmental, social and political change. The book is a handbook for this urgent task. Read it and join the struggle!'


- Conal McCarthy, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand


'Are museums shrines to the past, hubs of engagement for the present, or shapers of the future? Assembling dozens of contributions by leading and new voices in museum studies, Museum Activism targets the core values and principles guiding museum practice today with the aim of transforming the way we think about the social role of museums. This book offers a deep reflection on the limits and potential for museum activism at a time of deepening economic inequality and environmental collapse, a bold call for action for the international museum community, and a field guide to museum activism in practice. Slaying the zombie myth of institutional neutrality that excuses institutional complacency and inaction, it argues for a vision of the museum as an ally and agent of change. Activists around the world are calling on museums to leverage their cultural power to help shape the future for the common good. This book is an insider's guide to making it happen.'





- Beka Economopoulos, Founding Director of The Natural History Museum, USA, a traveling museum and museum transformation project


'Janes and Sandell have assembled a powerful volume of essays that encourages museums to transform themselves from precious vaults into active agents of social justice. Museum Activism is a collective call for museums to become more mindful, moral, and courageous places of conscience. These timely essays challenge museums to become more aware of the toxic legacies and current devastation of colonialism, imperialism, xenophobia, homophobia, racism and sexism and to become unafraid in "addressing the big problems and the big questions" that confront us globally. This publication provides a needed wake-up call, a radical re-imagining of museums and a range of practical strategies for action!'


- Jennifer Scott, Director & Chief Curator of Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

Museum Activism features 34 essays by 50 authors from 14 countries on six continents that look at how museums are working as activists on issues, such as climate change, decolonization, sustainability, the Holocaust, the refugee crises, feminism, politics and queer activism, human rights and poverty.

-Rob Alexander, Rocky Mountain Outlook
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About Robert R. Janes

Robert R. Janes is a Visiting Fellow at the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Museum Management and Curatorship, and the founder of the Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice. He has devoted his career to championing museums as important social institutions that can make a difference in the lives of individuals and their communities.


Richard Sandell is Professor of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, UK. His research and practice is concerned with the social roles and responsibilities of museums, galleries and heritage sites and, in particular, their capacity to shape the moral and political climate within which human rights are experienced.
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