Museum Activism

Front Cover
Robert R. Janes, Richard Sandell
Routledge, Jan 10, 2019 - Art - 436 pages

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.



List of colour plates
Growing an activist museum professional
Museum responses
Bringing the museum to the people
Agency accountability
The activist role of museum staff
Grassroots social justice activism in American
Museums in the age of intolerance
A case study in museum connections
Favela museums and the struggle
The journey towards activism at St Fagans National
Museums and communities activating change
On activism museums and changing the world
Heritage and queer activism

Spectacular defiance
Bernadette Lynch
Feminism and the politics of friendship in the activist museum
Inclusive curatorship and its political potential
A perspective from
Museums in the climate emergency
Reengaging African collections at
Collecting the Hong Kong
Contending with power asymmetries in museum work
Challenging the antiauthorial turn in art curating
Memory activism and the Holocaust memorial institutions of the 21st
A framework for sustainability science in museums
Stories of impact from activist museums
Nicola Gauld
Museums activism and social media or how Twitter challenges

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2019)

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.