Museum Innovation : Building More Equitable, Relevant and Impactful Museums book cover
1st Edition

Museum Innovation
Building More Equitable, Relevant and Impactful Museums

ISBN 9780367481391
Published July 19, 2021 by Routledge
274 Pages 39 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Museum Innovation encourages museums to critically reflect upon current practices and adopt new approaches to their civic responsibilities. Arguing that museums have a moral duty to perform, the book shows how social innovation can make them more equitable, relevant and impactful institutions.

Including contributions from a diverse group of international scholars, practitioners and researchers, the book investigates the innovative approaches museums are taking to address contemporary social issues. The volume focuses on the concept of social innovation and individual chapters address a range of crucial issues, such as climate change; the COVID-19 pandemic; diversity and inclusion; the travel ban; and the repatriation of museum collections. Exploring the impact that organizational structures have on museums’ aspirations to act as agents for social change, the book also unpacks how museums can establish sustainable relationships with minority communities. Proposing steps that museums can take to affirm their relevance as viable community partners, the book breaks down silos and connects ideas across different areas of museum work.

Museum Innovation explores the role of contemporary museums in society. It is essential reading for academics, students and practitioners working in the museum and heritage studies field. The book’s interdisciplinary nature makes it also an interesting read for those working in business studies, digital humanities, visual culture, arts administration and political science fields.

Table of Contents


Haitham Eid and Melissa Forstrom

Part I. Innovation in museum collections, narratives and exhibitions 

1. Youth and community engagement at the Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

Jade Baurley and Sarah Younan

2. Reflections on public art collections in Trinidad and Tobago

Daniela Fifi and Nimah Muwakil-Zakuri

3. Innovation in interpretation: Museological responses to the travel ban

Melissa Forstrom

4. The development of the exhibition of African art in American art museums: Strategy for engaging the recent repatriation debate about the cultural property of Benin

Ndubuisi C. Ezeluomba

5. Embodiment at the edge of the archive: Private audience and public experience

Seth Ellis

6. Curating objects transculturally: An innovative exhibition trail at the Museum für Islamische Kunst Berlin

Sophia Vassilopoulou

Part II. Innovation in digital

7. Sustainability, resilience and growth through digital innovation

Nik Honeysett

8. A multiprong approach to digital content and accessibility at the Lubbock Lake Landmark

Megan Reel, Jessica Stepp and Eileen Johnson

9. Innovation, data and social responsibility

Oonagh Murphy & Elena Villaespesa 


Part III. Innovation in diversity and inclusion practices

10. Interpreting LGBTQ histories at the British Museum

Stuart Frost 

11. Museums and cities as labs for collaborative action (Museum Co-Lab)

Amy Landau and Harold D. Morales

12. Performances in museum spaces: Exploring the complexities of the human condition

Ilyanette Bernabel 


Part IV. Institution-wide innovation

13. Humanizing museum repatriation

Robert R. Janes 

14. The ontogeny of museums: What’s your institution’s future path?

Kathryn K. Matthew

15. Crafting Chinese ethnic minority heritage: Innovation in the Chinese Ethnology Museum

David Francis, Lisheng Zhang and Luo Pan

16. How a pandemic upended “business as usual” for museum associations and how they are rising to the challenge

Eric Longo

17. Innovative museum responses to COVID-19: Serving and strengthening communities

Holly Harmon


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Haitham Eid is Associate Professor and Director of the Master of Arts in Museum Studies Program, Southern University at New Orleans, USA.

Melissa Forstrom is an assistant professor at Purchase College, State University of New York, where she teaches museum studies, arts management and visual culture.


"One can feel the pulse of museums across the globe in this timely collection of diverse disciplinary, professional, geographical and thematic accounts of innovative museum practice. The volume does justice to the spectacular problem-solving and creative abilities of museums, actualized and sharpened in the face of global issues such as a pandemic, racial discrimination and environmental crises. The publication contributes to furthering museums' social roles and responsibilities by setting higher standards, goals and ambitions. Readers will also find much-needed inspiration and tools - such as social innovation in museums - to begin to decrypt the extraordinary transformations of our societies and, not least, to imagine and create a future in which museums will be even more prominent actors of social change. This is highly recommended reading for anyone interested in museums and the part they can play in shaping our world."

~Marzia Varutti, University of Oslo, Norway


"This is a timely, accessible, profound and valuable contribution to urgent conversations. It stands as a legacy of the rapid and ongoing changes in global museum studies, including regional, cultural, and community-centered assessments of the diverse roles played by contemporary museums. I will urge my students to reflect upon these voices across their study of global art histories, as well as the legacies and impact of cultural institutions."

~Dr Sam Bowker, Charles Sturt University, Australia


"The contemporary world, with its fast globalization processes can confront individuals with a range of global concerns. The need for trusted public institutions, which can take on vital roles in addressing issues of social inclusion and diversity, local community survival, environmental changes, and the effects of natural and human-caused disasters is obvious. The authors of the Museum Innovation volume argue that such an institution exists, the museum. Thus, the innovations which make museums increasingly more involved in dealing with global social problems are of special interest. The fundamental background of the project and the range and authority of its contributors make it possible to discuss innovations in all traditional and new kinds of museum work. Furthermore, the interdisciplinarity of the volume is organically mirrored in every chapter collected in it. Thus, the academic complexity of scholarly approach together with finest cases of up-to-date museum practices allow not only a solution for some current museum issues, but also elucidate work with social issues previously not taken into the account. Finally, taken together the Museum Innovation volume importantly maps out a strategy of developing the museum of the future, which is strikingly important in the epoch of global challenges."

~Fedor Veselov, St Petersburg State University, Russia