Thursday, February 2, 2012

Will Museum Attendees Become Part of the 1%?

Reading the articles about the National Museum of the American Indian and “The West as America” made me wonder, who goes to museums and why?

I, a white middle-class female, have often felt that there is a specific message to art works in museums that only a select few understand due to their social standing and education. This only represents a smidgen of the exclusion that minority populations might experience in these spaces. The articles we read for class today and an online paper from the American Association of Museums entitled Demographic Transformation and the Future of Museums ( shows that the limited demographic of museum audiences is an issue merging to the forefront of discussion. The paper is a review of current studies of museum populations and notes possible causes for the low rates of African American and Latino attendees. Possible reasons are: the lack of representation in subject-matter, a lack of “specialized knowledge and a cultivated aesthetic understand and appreciate what are perceived by many as elite art forms”, and economic disparities among races (13). The AAM acknowledges the importance of broadening its audience, not only to celebrate diversity, but to remain in business. The case studies serve as good examples of their efforts to do so.

A call for change is not only heard through those in the Museum business, but also in the voices of the Occupy Movement. Though their strategy is debatable ( after reading the statistics from the AAM paper, the actions of the “Occupy Museum” actors are not too surprising. ( The group calls for an end to cultural elitism and the elevation of one’s individual genius over another’s.

P.S. Sorry I had some trouble with the hyperlinks. You'll just have to copy and paste a couple of them!

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