Seven Recent Reads – Election Edition


  1. In a thoughtful blog post published a day before the election, Rebecca Herz asks, “What relationship do museums have for shaping the public’s relationship with facts?” and questions whether the open-ended approach to museum education, in which visitors make their own meaning, contributes to a climate in which various bits of false information are held up as truth. This post is especially pertinent in light of Google’s and Facebook’s recent efforts to stymie the proliferation of fake news in their networks, and questions that have risen in the last few weeks as to whether fake news stories played a role in the election results.
  2. The Center for the Future of Museums posted the conciliatory “Healing the Partisan Divide,” eliciting a heated discussion in the comments. In this post are statistics about the strong prevalence of Democrats in the museum field, and an argument for diversity of political viewpoints in the field.
  3. The American Institute of Architects (which manages the Octagon museum in DC) wrote a statement congratulating Donald Trump, with a focus on the importance of rebuilding infrastructure. This Washington Post article discusses architects’ opposition to the statement, and how AIA has since backpedaled and apologized.
  4. The Council of Non-Profits posted a thorough explanation of how the new administration’s policies (as well as the results of local elections) might change key aspects of the non-profit world, such as employment laws and incentives for charitable giving. (As so many museum staff, especially in the DC area, are employed by either non-profits or government, I am also sharing this article on Trump’s plans for federal employees, which consist of scaling back pay, protections, and positions.)
  5. In New York City, the Tenement Museum has seen an uptick in hostile remarks about immigration since the election, according to this article. The museum is working to provide all staff with tools for responding to such commentary as it continues to interpret the history of immigration to the United States.
  6. Carly Dunne wrote an article in Hyperallergic about artist Annette Lemieux’s request that her work on display at the Whitney Museum, Left Right Left Right, be turned upside down in response to Trump’s winning of the electoral vote and thereby the presidency.
  7. Hundreds of Jewish historians have signed a statement on the election and the spike in hate crimes that followed. Most of the signers are affiliated with universities, but two represent museums (the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, and the Center for Jewish History in New York City). The scholars write,

“As scholars of Jewish history, we are acutely attuned to the fragility of democracies and the consequences for minorities when democracies fail to live up to their highest principles….We stand ready to wage a struggle to defend the constitutional rights and liberties of all Americans. It is not too soon to begin mobilizing in solidarity.”

For more on how museums are responding to the election, see this issue of Dispatches for the Future of Museums, as well as the #museumsthedayafter hashtag on Twitter.

And a question for readers: what museum should Donald Trump be sure to visit (and learn from) in the four years he will be living (at least part-time…) in DC?

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About Laura

Paralegal with Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education, frequent museum visitor, based in Washington, DC. I care about what museums can do, both in terms of public offerings and internal practices, to make the world a better place. I blog about museum education ("informed"), the social work of museums ("humane"), and visitor experience ("citizenry").
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