September 2023

I Quit!: Acknowledging Burnout and the Need for Empathy and Self-Care in Museum Education

Guest Editors: Alexandra F. Morris, PhD., Asami Robledo-Allen Yamamoto, Kate Zankowicz, PhD., and Andrea Kim Neighbors

Read the full collection here.

An image of a low battery icon with the the words Journal of Museum Education above it, and 2023 Virtual Special Issue "Burnout" below.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.”


Year Article Title Authors
2022 Illness and Empathy: Promoting Anti-Ableist Practices in Art Museum Education Asami Robledo-Allen Yamamoto & Beatriz Asfora Galuban
2022 Attending to Each Other: Centering Neurodivergent Museum Professionals in Attentive Facilitation Sam Theriault & Rebecca Ljungren
2022 Museum Crip Space, By Any Other Name Beth Ziebarth & Janice Majewski
2022 Exploring Trauma Responsive Educational Practices in a Museum C. Aaron Price, Leila Makdisi, Gail Hutchison, Daniel Lancaster & Micere Keels
2021 The Privilege of Low Pay: Informal Educators’ Perspectives on Workforce Equity and Diversity K. Rende, K. Fromson, M. G. Jones & M. Ennes
2021 The Significant Loss of Museum Educators in 2020: A Data Story Amanda Krantz & Stephanie Downey
2021 Weaving Trauma Awareness into Museum Education Jackie Armstrong, Laura Evans, Stephen Legari, Ronna Tulgan Ostheimer, Andrew Palamara & Emily Wiskera
2021 The Need for Educators of Color in K-12 Museum Tours Jessica Fuentes
2020 LGBTIQ+-Themed Education at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna – Guided Tours with a Drag Queen Benjamin Rowles
2017 Doing the Work: A Discussion on Visioning and Realizing Racial Equity in Museums Radiah Harper & Keonna Hendrick
2016 Fostering Humanism in Medicine through Art and Reflection Holly C. Gooding, Mariah Quinn, Barbara Martin, Alexandra Charrow & Joel T. Katz
1988 Journal of Museum Education, Volume 13, Issue 2, 1988
1999 Love: The Enduring Prerequisite at the Heart of Museum Work Elaine Heumann Gurian
2009 The Museum Educator Crisis Tina R. Nolan
2013 Carving a Strong Identity: Investigating the Life Histories of Museum Educators
Natasha S. Reid
2013 Janet K. Swim & John Fraser