Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D.
Date of Award
Museum Studies, M.A.
History and Social Studies Education Department
Department Home page
Dr. Cynthia Conides
The year 2020 has been universally acknowledged as an extraordinary point in activist history. The Black Lives Matter organization has spearheaded a new wave of activism comparable to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and 70s. By evaluating how cultural learning centers such as museums have presented racial history in the past, an effective plan can be made on how museums should interpret this present-day history. Museums should not only recognize #BlackLivesMatter as an important part of history in an academic sense, but they should also actively promote positive racial change in the communities they serve. Research shows that museums play a large role in forming the public’s view on past racial events. This study will explore how racial topics are presented in conventional museums such as typical history or art centers, as well as those which specialize in civil and human rights. By pairing this information with how museums are currently interacting with activists, there are both good and bad practices in the museum industry. It has become common practice to focus more on the traumatic violence that is part of African American history, rather than the triumphs that followed these hardships. By allowing racial groups to take an authoritative position on how their own histories are portrayed, museums can promote healing, understanding, and powerful lasting relationships through an authentic interpretation.
Friedler, Madeline B., "More than a Museum: Museums' Past, Current, and Future Involvement with Racial Issues" (2021). Museum Studies Theses. 30.