Community museum

A community museum is a museum serving as an exhibition and gathering space for specific identity groups or geographic areas.

In contrast to traditional museums, community museums are commonly multidisciplinary, and may simultaneously exhibit the history, social history, art, or folklore of their communities. They emphasize collaboration with – and relevance to – visitors and other stakeholders, and as a result, often appear more overtly political than other museums.

HistoryEdit

OriginsEdit

In the United States, the emergence of community museums in the 1960s and 1970s has a direct correlation with the greater social movements of the time. Noting that their histories and cultures were largely absent from mainstream museums, activists and civic leaders from minority communities began to open their own museums in an attempt to have their identities and stories told. [1] In the context of the African American community, this lack of representation prompted individuals to open small, locally focused museums, many of which provided early models for contemporary community museums. As they grew in stature and wealth, some museums started to stray from their mission and commitment to local communities and began tackling broader global issues. In the past few years, an emphasis on returning museum focus to local community history and culture has helped differentiate the community museum from every other type of museum. [2]

ProfessionalizationEdit

During the 1960s and 1970s, community museums tended to be created and run by activists rather than museum professionals. One notable example of such an activist is John Kinard, the founding director of the Anacostia Community Museum. Although Kinard lacked experience in the museum setting, he used his connections within the community to learn on the job.[3] However, as community museums grew in size, they often hired historians or museum professionals to guide their curation, collections management, and fundraising. Starting in the late 1970s, The Anacostia Community Museum began to create specialized internal departments and emphasize expert credentials in its hiring process. [4] Similary, after taking over as director of the Wing Luke Museum in 1983, Kit Freudenberg directed staff to rigorously clean, catalogue and research the museum's artifacts, "many of which had been placed in boxes or marked with masking tape."[5]

MethodsEdit

Community museums are marked by their blend of traditional museum methods with methods commonly associated with community organizations and community arts projects. They often practice participatory methods, involving their audiences in various processes, particularly exhibition development and public programming. These practices are varied. The Wing Luke Museum conducts outreach at the beginning of exhibition projects, convenes advisory committees composed of audience members at various stages in the curatorial process, and has even hired full-time community organizers to join their staff.[6] [7] The Brooklyn Historical Society has accepted exhibit proposals from audience members and trained them in curatorial skills to co-create exhibits.[8] These methods distinguish geographically specific museums like the Anacostia Community Museum from local history museums, which may exclude non-museum professionals from their curatorial processes.

While such methods require more labor from museum staff than traditional curatorial methods,[9] writer and museum director Nina Simon has argued that they make museums more inviting and relevant to audience members.[10]

Examples of community museumsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Moreno, M.-J. (2004). Art Museums and Socioeconomic Forces: The Case of a Community Museum. Review of Radical Political Economics, 36(4), 506–527.
  2. ^ Burns, Andrea A. From Storefront to Monument : Tracing the Public History of the Black Museum Movement.
  3. ^ Autry, Robyn. (2017). 'The rats are still with us': Constructing Everyday Life at the Anacostia Museum in Washington, DC. Museum and Society. 14. 163.
  4. ^ Autry, Robyn. (2017). 'The rats are still with us': Constructing Everyday Life at the Anacostia Museum in Washington, DC. Museum and Society. 14. 168.
  5. ^ Chew, Ron (2000). "The Wing Luke Asian Museum". Chinese America: History & Perspectives.
  6. ^ Chinn, Cassie (June 22, 2012). "Push Me, Pull You". Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
  7. ^ Kadoyama, Margaret (2018). Museums Involving Communities: Authentic Connections. New York: Routledge.
  8. ^ Schwartz, Deborah (2011). "Community as Curator: A Case Study at the Brooklyn Historical Society" in Bill Adair, Benjamin Filene, and Laura Koloski, eds., Letting Go? Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World. Philadelphia: The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. pp. 113–114. ISBN 978-0-9834803-0-3.
  9. ^ Filene, Benjamin (2011). "Listening Intently: Can StoryCorps Teach Museums How to Win the Hearts of New Audiences?" in Bill Adair, Benjamin Filene, and Laura Koloski, eds., Letting Go? Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World. Philadelphia: The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-9834803-0-3.
  10. ^ Simon, Cassie (2018). "Community-First Program Design". The Art of Relevance.