Do It Off Broadway: Exploring the Politics of Diversity and Inclusion in Museums Through Risk, Advocacy, and Queer Experience
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What does it mean for museums to be diverse and inclusive? Does inclusion just mean representation, or does it also require a degree of institutional allyship and pursuit of change? This research study seeks to explore, from a queer perspective, how aspects of risk and advocacy interrelate in creating the experience of a museum as diverse and inclusive. To explore this, a phenomenology of seven museum professionals from across the United States was conducted, all queer identified or heavily involved in diversity and inclusion efforts. Their insights were aggregated into a series of emergent themes that point towards the ways museums are “doing” inclusion now, and how they might improve. The four overarching themes which emerged were (1) inclusion tends to be measured by feelings of safety, welcome, and prioritization of the included community; (2) risk and advocacy have value to diversity and inclusion work; (3) the most prevalent barriers to inclusion efforts were direct or indirect financial concerns; (4) individuals, rather than policy, tend to be credited with driving change. While limited by the sample’s size and a lack of visitor data, results have implications for how museums can continue to develop new strategies for diversity and inclusion based on institutional identity, integration of inclusion into all museum functions, “safe” risk-taking principles, equitable hiring and employment practices, and encouragement of internal and individual innovation.
- Museology