Who decided what should be included or not included in museums

The idea that museums actually have to post notices or public announcements to the general public about inclusiveness is disturbing to me. To me the museum is one of the last bastions of inclusiveness even if it is in a minor way. Everybody that considers themselves United States citizens family came to this country as an immigrant or a slave. Museums should be the embodiment of that fact and reality.  Zach Aarons article where he says “To those who visit our museum spoiling for a fight, or who pass it over anticipating a political message, I invite you to consider our values.”[1] Values that everybody has a history of a relative becoming an immigrant to this country and should respect their mission of equality for all people who were and are.

Germany’s program with refugees giving tours to other refuges is a perfect answer to the problem brought up in my initial paragraph. Educate and celebrate heritage, but also understand the different viewpoints and feels that will be invoked when people see the exhibits. Museums are supposed to be the institutions that can bridge this gap by allowing for educated open conversation and helping people cope with the array of feelings they have on the subject related to the artifacts. Topics Museums choose to show is for that reason to help a society cope with a great or bad experience so, we as a unified people, will never forget or be forgotten. “The American Alliance of Museums respects, values, and celebrates the unique attributes, characteristics and perspectives that make each person who they are. We believe that our strength lies in our diversity among the broad range if people and museums we represent. We consider diversity and inclusion a driver of institutional excellence and seek out diversity of participation, thought and action. It is out aim, therefore, that out members, partners, key stakeholders reflect and embrace these core values.”[2] American Alliance of Museums diversity policy explains this very well.

The Black Lives Matter movement should also be given the same treatment as every other topic is given when added to history and explained in museum exhibits. History is history and some of it is uncomfortable and arouses strong emotions. This does not mean it should be shoved in a box somewhere and put in large warehouse never to be seen again. A they have done in European museums the same should be done here in the United States. Guides to should be trained to answer and interact with a myriad of reactions to the exhibit and be able to mediate an informational dialogue with each experience so that it arouses different thought and ideas in a conducive manner as to appeal to all visitor’s experiences and reactions. Just with the people I work with in this graduate program, we all different opinions and viewpoints, but seem to handle everybody’s ideas well. There are exceptions that do occur, but as in museums, there are policies to help in dealing with those rare occasions.

[1]Zach Aarons. “Memo to all those visiting the tenement museum to fight about immigrants.” Forward, December 4, 2016.

[2] Alliance Board of Directors. Diversity and Inclusion Policy. American Alliance of Museums, February 26, 2014.

One thought on “Who decided what should be included or not included in museums”

  1. I agree that it would be interesting to implement the refugee museum guides here in America as they did in Germany. Locally, my visit to the Basque Museum was enhanced by interacting with a guide of Basque heritage. Having those connections makes the history personal and relatable, which as we’ve read before, is kind of the whole point.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *