2023 VIRTUAL SPECIAL ISSUE
Guest Editors: Alexandra F. Morris, PhD., Asami Robledo-Allen Yamamoto, Kate Zankowicz, PhD., and Andrea Kim Neighbors
Museum education is in a state of crisis. This Virtual Special Issue is a call of solidarity with all those who have considered leaving the field but who are still inside, or who have already fled. According to Christine Maslach and Michael P. Leiter, burnout emerges as “a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job.” With burnout, you may find yourself experiencing microaggressions or tokenization due to being a part of a marginalized group(s), lack of support, mentorship, and/or pay, or overall absence of compassion, understanding, and/or empathy. This can be exhausting as you muddle through figuring things out independently while still acting as an advocate, resource, and sounding board. You may take on all this extra emotional weight for the good of the field, while wishing someone would just check to see if you’re okay. If this describes how you are feeling now, may this gathering of articles offer you insight and comfort during your time of need.
The collection begins with survey articles, revealing historical trends and data about the state of museum education. Next are articles about trauma and the weight museum educators carry to ensure visitor’s emotional safety when creating safer and healing spaces. The following articles address burnout related to climate change, and race, disability, and LGBTQ+ identities. We conclude the series of articles with an editorial focusing on love- hopefully leaving you feeling hopeful.
As you read, remember that being burned out is a systemic problem. Burnout is evidence of systemic oppression, often cast as a “you” problem. It is time to dismantle the ableist paradigm of burnout being about individual shortcomings (ie. that you can’t handle the work because you don’t have enough of the fight in you.) Let us be inspired by Elaine Heumann Gurian’s words: “Museums are a business and they can be cruel places to work, but we can arm ourselves with love for ourselves, our work and one another.”