Silence is not neutral, and objectivity does not exist

Last month, I presented [1] a paper at the Re-Imagining Challenging History conference in Cardiff, Wales. It combined and developed two of the key things I’ve written about a lot on this blog recently: that museums’ silence is never neutral, and that objectivity, as an expression of ‘truth’ (including a ‘material’ truth), does not exist. … Continue reading Silence is not neutral, and objectivity does not exist

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Interpretation and Integration: Where ‘education’ may become an obstacle.

The main research question for my PhD was whether or not interpretation delivered the public benefits of heritage as asserted in relevant legislation and policy. A key benefit is mutual understanding/social integration and cohesion, and sometimes also more directly, peace [1].   I’ve been thinking a lot about this particular benefit over recent months. In … Continue reading Interpretation and Integration: Where ‘education’ may become an obstacle.

Integration goes both ways: Current practice in Germany

I am really intrigued by how German cultural institutions, including museums, appear to be contributing to the efforts of integrating refugees into German civic society. This announcement of an upcoming exhibition about 14 projects in Berlin notes what seems to be a conscious shift away from narrowly focusing on refugees’ stories toward integrative projects that … Continue reading Integration goes both ways: Current practice in Germany

A Story of Exclusion, Or: Why I still think targeting audiences keeps museums on the wrong path

The ‘Extremism’ speech delivered this week by Britain’s Prime Minister made me ponder again that concept of ‘hard-to-reach’ audiences, especially what we call ‘BAME’ groups, and how the museums sector is using it to shape its practice. To me, what has been happening to Muslims in the UK over the last decade illustrates very eloquently … Continue reading A Story of Exclusion, Or: Why I still think targeting audiences keeps museums on the wrong path

‘I’m so glad to see you here’: Why inclusion must be more than a policy.

Last week’s #museumsrespondtoferguson discussion was on inclusion policies and their implementation in recruitment practice (you can read the Storify story here). At one point, one of the hosts of the chat, Adrianne Russell, shared, ‘I can’t count how many times black visitors told me “I’m so glad to see you here”’, which just floored me. … Continue reading ‘I’m so glad to see you here’: Why inclusion must be more than a policy.

The German MA’s Recommendations for Representing Migration

A couple of weeks ago, the German Museums Association (Deutscher Museumsbund) published recommendations for museums on how to include and represent migration and cultural diversity in their work. I was really impressed by two key concepts that frame the entire document: Migration is the Norm This is a fact that is evident when we burst … Continue reading The German MA’s Recommendations for Representing Migration

Museums and Political Debate, Or: Why I Need You To Take A Stance

Over recent months, living as an immigrant in Britain [1], I have gone through a process that leaves me feeling increasingly alienated from museums and heritage sites in this country. In still-used museum discourse terms, I'm probably becoming one of the ‘hard-to-reach’. I feel let down by British museums. You see, these days, I daily … Continue reading Museums and Political Debate, Or: Why I Need You To Take A Stance

The uses and limitations of target audiences and segmentation

Target audiences are meant to do two things: guide our practice as we become more visitor focused, and increase visitor numbers. I’ve come to believe that in both areas, target audiences actually do more harm than good – at least the way we’re currently using them. In general, audiences are segmented by the following: age, … Continue reading The uses and limitations of target audiences and segmentation

Are we inclusively excluding people from museums and heritage sites?

I’ve recently read English Heritage’s consultation on under-represented heritages [1] and it got me thinking, yet again, about target audiences. Here are some of the points that struck a chord with me: We don’t want [insert under-represented heritage here] sites In fact, one respondent called this idea ‘horrible’ (p. 10).  In other words, they didn’t … Continue reading Are we inclusively excluding people from museums and heritage sites?