May 2020

International Museum Day 2020

A banner image with text reading: "Routledge Taylor and Francis Group. International Museum Day Article Collection. Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion." The text is placed above a line of cartoon people, all with different skin tones and different colored t-shirts to make a rainbow spectrum.

This year’s International Museum Day is centered around the theme, “Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion.” To celebrate International Museum Day, Routledge (publisher of the Journal of Museum Education) has curated a collection of articles that explore these topics and how they relate to museums and the heritage sector. 

Five articles from JME are included in this collection. We reached out to those authors to ask for their thoughts on the day’s theme and how their work has evolved since being published, especially in today’s climate. 

Wendy Ng, Syrus Marcus Ware & Alyssa Greenberg, authors of “Activating Diversity and Inclusion: A Blueprint for Museum Educators as Allies and Change Makers” expanded on how we can use their work to center equity right now. 

“When we first started drafting this article four years ago, we chose the terms “allies” and changemakers” as gateways into DEAI work for a field that is predominantly White women. For some, it was too radical and for others, it was not radical enough. Since then, we have expanded the conversation and worked to get at the heart of museum power dynamics: White supremacy, the culture of Whiteness, and racial capitalism. In the era of COVID-19, we have seen the ethics of the DEAI movement cast aside as museums grapple with closures and treat their workers as disposable through widespread layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts. The museum workers most severely impacted by the losses of employment and income work in Visitor Services, Education, Facilities, and Security — typically, the departments with the most workers of color represented. One action we can all take this week is to share the Museum Workers Relief Fund organized by Museum Workers Speak (and to donate if that is available to you). We hope this article will be a beginning point for your conversations and that you continue to push further, exploring ways to dismantle White supremacy in all of its forms in our field.”

Elisabeth Callihan, co-author of “Presence and Power: Beyond Feminism in Museums” shares her thoughts on the importance of museum educators in inclusive work. 

“In the light of the crisis we’re in, an intersectional feminist agenda–thinking about gender, specifically with a racial, economic, and disability justice lens–is more important than ever. As museums are faced with drastic budget cuts, it is imperative that we choose equity as the guiding principle for decision making, and that we work to support the communities most impacted by this crisis. We are at a critical inflection point as a field. This article advocates for a transformative shift in our approach, and outlines how the work of museum educators is key to this movement.“ 

We hope you enjoy International Museum Day and this collection of articles. The entire selection of articles will be open access though the end of June 2020. Routledge has also selected books to highlight around the theme of IMD. Museum Education Roundtable members and JME readers receive 30% off their purchase by entering the discount code SOC21. 

If we take one thing away from these articles, it must be that our work is never done. As many of us reimagine our institutions, roles and futures, we hope that equity and inclusion are at the forefront of our minds.