Recent Reflections and Reads: The Incredible, Credible Museum

For the past six months, I’ve been contemplating questions related to what makes someone or something a trusted or persuasive source. In whose opinion or expertise do we put stock? How do we honor different kinds of knowledge, both that gained from study and that gained from personal experience? Who is the best person to tell someone’s story? To whose stories is society willing to listen? How do we center the voices of those who have historically been silenced? With proximity to death being a part of oppression, who is even around to tell one’s own story? Why might we feel that our own perspectives are not persuasive on their own, needing to be bolstered by statistics, or a long-form article showing someone else feels the same way? What biases or blind spots limit well-intentioned research projects or creative endeavors? How can objects, and the context provided by museums, fight an era of alternative facts and anti-expertise? And how do I get back into the habit of blogging about a particular field without getting bogged down in impostor syndrome? (If I didn’t manage to make a financially viable career in the field, am I, in fact, an impostor?)

1.       Honoring an Exhibition That Never Opened – article on the exhibit 6.13.89: The Canceling of the Mapplethorpe Exhibition that just opened at the Corcoran, which I can’t wait to see. Director of the Corcoran school Sanjit Sethi said that there’s currently “another conversation of what it means to be American. Are we really for a dynamic, culturally accepting, norm-disrupting and culturally creative society, or are we for something more homogenous? That’s where I think all cultural institutions [are]…you can’t assume someone else is going to push for those dialogues.”

2.       Guiding Questions to Think about Bias in Museums (by functional area) – blog post from Brilliant Idea Studio that encourages museums to tackle bias in a variety of ways that it can manifest itself. The process is one of interrogating omissions: “investigating inherent challenges requires thinking about who is missing and why.”

3.       The Value of Lived Experience in Social Change: The Need for Leadership and Organisational Development in the Social Sector offers further insights that can be applied to the questions posed in #2 above for museums in particular.

4.       Personality Tests Are Popular, But Do They Capture The Real You? – article by a skeptic questioning the credibility of personality tests, and exploring the limitations of personality tests in painting an accurate picture of who a person is.


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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