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Wrapping up

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During the first week of this course you met your instructors, looked at the course structure and understood the type of content you can expect during this course.

You have also learned, or maybe reaffirmed existing knowledge, that museums around the world are making significant efforts to include those who have been historically marginalized from various sectors in our societies. Historically marginalized people are those who, for whatever reason, are denied involvement in mainstream economic, political, cultural, and social activities, such as the elderly, persons with disabilities, migrants, minorities, Indigenous peoples, members from the LGBTQI+ and ethno-cultural communities. These groups have often faced systemic barriers that have made it difficult to access the many benefits that museums have to offer.

You have heard from several voices in Week 1 about what it means to be excluded. You also heard how museum institutions have wittingly or unwittingly excluded groups of people from their offerings. This has affected the work they are trying to do in reaching out to new audiences and communities. You have also discovered different types of actions that some museums are taking to reverse the harmful effects of exclusion. For instance, Theaster Gates made us reflect on how creating spaces where people want to be and stay longer can create an increased sense of belonging. The feeling of belonging can help institutions combat exclusion and foster better working relationships with the communities they intend to serve. In “Nothing About Us Without US,” you heard about parallels between the disability rights movement and the work of other historically marginalized communities demanding to be heard and included in decision-making tables in institutions like museums.

Case studies like the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Museum of Antioquia have provided you with the opportunity to look at concrete examples of museums minimizing their own voices to let their communities speak. This has served to slowly increase the trust that historically excluded community members have in these institutions. These interactions have not happened without tension or challenges. Nevertheless, they have also opened doors to new audiences, allowing them to enter the museum, sometimes for the first time. Meaningful community work is not easy, but perseverance and consistency always pay off. They are key in moving institutions to become more open, diverse and inclusive for all.

Next week, you will go deeper into some of these inclusive strategies and learn about the ethical obligations associated with working with historically marginalized and vulnerable communities. You will also learn how to respect community members’ autonomy and how to share authority in museum projects. Similarly, you will be able to learn from concrete examples involving inclusive design methodologies.

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Creating Meaningful and Inclusive Museum Practices

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