Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Museums in the time of politics

I'm dipping my toes back into the museum blogging world, because my head is full of many things that I need to put down on [digital] paper.

I've been thinking a lot about how museums function as public spaces in an age of social justice, protest, and politics. That thinking was sparked by a good (if difficult and emotional) conversation during the Education PAG lunch at NEMA 2016, about which I may write more later.

Two blog posts this past week have also made me think further.

First was Westworld, museum collecting, and the 2016 election. I admit, I bailed on Westworld (I'm not great with violence and/or body horror), but it did raise some provocative questions about the way we see the world, what it takes to be a good person, and how to operate in a world where the rules seem to change daily. It's made me think a lot about how we share our collections and teach lessons from history in our post-fact world.

Second is What does a Trump presidency mean for the IMLS? from Engaging Places. There's some good news there - funding is moving forward with bipartisan support, the new director is set until 2020 - and some less than encouraging news. Of particular note is this summation, which highlights for me one of the most disquieting pieces of our new reality:
If after January 20, [the IMLS re-authorization bill will] be on President Trump’s desk but will he sign the bill or veto it? His decision will probably be most affected by what’s happening to him that day.
I'm going to continue to think about authority, history, museums, and social justice in 2017, and I'll be posting here weekly. I'll continue some museum highlights and reviews (including a number from a trip to northern Europe in summer 2016) and trying to dig a little deeper into how we work in the new reality of our world.

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