1st Edition

Museums and Social Change Challenging the Unhelpful Museum

    214 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    214 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Museums and Social Change explores the ways museums can work in collaboration with marginalised groups to work for social change and, in so doing, rethink the museum.

    Drawing on the first-hand experiences of museum practitioners and their partners around the world, the volume demonstrates the impact of a shared commitment to collaborative, reflective practice. Including analytical discussion from practitioners in their collegial work with women, the homeless, survivors of institutionalised child abuse and people with disabilities, the book draws attention to the significant contributions of small, specialist museums in bringing about social change. It is here, the book argues, that the new museum emerges: when museum practitioners see themselves as partners, working with others to lead social change, this is where museums can play a distinct and important role.

    Emerging in response to ongoing calls for museums to be more inclusive and participate in meaningful engagement, Museums and Social Change will be essential reading for academics and students working in museum and gallery studies, librarianship, archives, heritage studies and arts management. It will also be of great interest to those working in history and cultural studies, as well as museum practitioners and social activists around the world.

    List of contributors


    David Fleming

    Editors’ Preface

    Introduction - Neither helpful nor unhelpful – a clear way forward for the useful museum

    Bernadette Lynch

    PART I

    Museums and co-creation

    1 Behind barbed wire: Co-producing the Danish Welfare Museum

    Sarah Smed

    2. Rewriting the script: Power and change through a Museum of Homelessness

    Jessica and Matthew Turtle

    3. March of Women:equality and usefulness in action at Glasgow Women’s Library

    Adele Patrick

    4. In the name of the museum: The cultural actions and values of the Togo Rural Village Art Museum, Taiwan

    Ying-Ying Lai

    Part II

    Revealing hidden narratives

    5. Revealing hidden stories at the Danish Welfare Museum: A collaborative history

    Jeppe Wichmann Rasmussen

    6. Doors, stairways and pitfalls: Care Leavers’ memory work at the Danish Welfare Museum

    Stine Grønbæk Jensen

    7. ‘We cannot change the past, but we can change how we look at the past’: The use of creative writing in facing up to personal histories at the Danish Welfare Museum

    Trisse Gejl

    8. Invite, acknowledge and collect with respect: sensitive narratives at the Vest-Agder Museum, Norway

    Kathrin Pabst

    9. ‘Nothing about, us without us’: The journey to cultural democracy at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

    Sioned Hughes and Nia Williams

    10. Slow, uncomfortable, and badly paid: DisPLACE and the benefits of disability history

    Manon S. Parry, Corrie Tijsseling, and Paul van Trigt

    Part III: Taking back

    11. The act of emancipating oneself: The museum and the release of adult Care Leavers' case records 

    Jacob Knage Rasmussen

    12. A call to justice at the National Museum of Australia

    Adele Chynoweth



    Adele Chynoweth is currently a lecturer at the Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies at the Australian National University, where she received the 2018 Vice Chancellor’s Award for Public Policy and Outreach.

    Bernadette Lynch is an Honorary Research Associate, University College London. As a writer, researcher and museum professional she is known internationally for her work on public engagement and participation in museums. She has thirty years’ experience in senior management in UK and Canadian museums.

    Klaus Petersen is Professor of Welfare State History and director of the Danish Centre for Welfare Studies at the University of Southern Denmark.

    Sarah Smed is head of the Danish Welfare Museum, and known for her activist involvement in social issues, the Danish National Apology to Care Leavers in 2019 and investigation into other institutional abuse in 2020.