MUSEUMS: SOCIETY AND INCLUSION?
What are museums? Who are museums for? This course prompts students to contemplate the role of the museum in society as a public institution. What publics do they serve? How do they generate civic identity and cosmopolitanism? How do they advance learning and spark curiosity? Simultaneously, this course also focuses intensively and purposefully on the historical dependency between the modern institution and forces of colonialism and imperialism, on contested claims of ownership and representation (cultural property and agency), and ethical questions that contemporary museums face (access and inclusion). The course will address the function of the museum in relationship to its collecting practices and its publics in the past and present, and examine innovative initiatives, projects, methods and structures that are being designed to advocate for greater inclusion and equity. Students will not only learn that museums were shaped by and in turn shaped uneven power relationships and inequity, but will also consider how museums might serve and speak with diverse communities more productively in the future.