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By Kylie Message

Museums and Social Activism is the 1st examine to assemble old money owed of the African American and later American Indian civil rights-related social and reform routine that came about at the Smithsonian Mall throughout the Nineteen Sixties and Nineteen Seventies in Washington DC with the numerous yet unknown tale approximately museological transformation and curatorial activism that happened within the department of Political and Reform heritage on the nationwide Museum of yank historical past at the moment.

Based on interdisciplinary field-based examine that has introduced jointly cross-cultural and foreign views from the fields of Museum stories, Public background, Political technological know-how and Social move stories with empirical research, the booklet explores and analyses museums’ – in particular, curators’ – relationships with political stakeholders earlier and current.

By figuring out the alterations of an ancient times, Museums and Social Activism bargains provocative views at the cultural and political value of up to date museums. It highlights the relevance of previous perform and occasions for museums at the present time and better methods of figuring out the demanding situations and possibilities that outcome from the continued technique of renewal that museums proceed to exemplify.

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Additional resources for Museums and Social Activism: Engaged Protest

Example text

While some commentators and visitors (such as Mrs Patterson, quoted above) felt that the Smithsonian had become beholden to political fashion, others, aligned with African American activist groups, felt the museum did not go far enough in allowing the self-representation of minority groups. They decried, for instance, the museum’s approach toward collecting on the grounds that it was inadequately informed by African American experience, and presented it as an indictment of the authority, expertise and quality of the new Museum of History and Technology.

In order to tease out the political from the cultural and show how the two interact, I had to refocus my work so that it would draw from (and hopefully speak to) this range of social science disciplines, as well as those aligned with the humanities. Museums are an ideal vehicle for this analysis because of their links to both the government apparatus and community interests (as well as other stakeholders), and I determined to focus on the American Indian protest and reform collections within the Division of Political History because it exemplifies many of the tensions that characterize these relationships.

The National Museum of American History was interested in the Beck and Sharpton rallies as events that took the 1963 March on Washington as their central referent. The museum has significant collections related to the March on Washington and continues to collect material from events that acknowledge the ongoing impact of that event. 11 Demonstrators carrying banner at ‘Reclaim the Dream’ rally, Martin Luther King Memorial site, Washington, DC, 28 August 2010 Source: Kylie Message the Division of Political History’s collections.

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