1st Edition

Theorizing Equity in the Museum Integrating Perspectives from Research and Practice

Edited By Bronwyn Bevan, Bahia Ramos Copyright 2022
    184 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    184 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Theorizing Equity in the Museum integrates the perspectives of learning researchers and museum practitioners to shed light on the deep-seated structures that must be accounted for if the field is to move past aspirations and rhetoric and towards more inclusive practices. 

    Written during a time when museums around the world were being forced to reckon with their institutional practices of exclusion; their histories of colonization, both cultural and intellectual; and, for many, their tenuous business models, the chapters leverage a range of theoretical perspectives to explore lived experiences of working in the museum towards changing the museum. Theories of spatial justice, critical pedagogy, culturally relevant pedagogy, critical race theory, and others are used to consider how the museum’s dominant cultural structures and norms collide with museum professionals’ aspirations for inclusive practices. The chapters present a mix of empirical research and reflections, which collectively operate to theorize the museum as a potential force for enriching, empowering, and transforming an inclusive public’s relationship with some of our most powerful ideas and aspirations. But first they must change, from the inside out.

    Grounded in practice and practical problems, Theorizing Equity in the Museum demonstrates how theory can be used as a practical tool for change. As a result the book will be of interest to academics and students engaged in the study of museums, education, learning and culture, as well as to museum practitioners with an interest in equity and inclusion.

    List of Figures

    List of Contributors


    Chapter 1

    Spatial Justice Theory
    Working Towards Justice: Reclaiming our Science Center

    Angela Calabrese Barton, Micaela Balzer, Won Jung Kim, Nik McPherson, Sinead Brien, Day Greenberg, Louise Archer, and the Members of the Youth Action Council

    Chapter 2

    Critical Pedagogy and Critical Theory

    Museum Education and Critical Pedagogy: Re-imagining Power in the Art Museum

    Correna Cohen and Aaliyah El-Amin

    Chapter 3

    Feminism, Intersectionality, and Decolonization Theories

    "The Price We Have to Be Willing to Pay is Ourselves": Discussing Illusions of Inclusion in Science Centers and Museums 

    Rokia Ballo, Subhadra Das, Emily Dawson, Vanessa Mignan, and Clémence Perronnet

    Chapter 4

    Theories of Identity in Communities of Practice

    Centering Equity and Access: An Examination of a Natural History Museum’s Mentored Research Youth Program

    Rachel Chaffee, Preeti Gupta, Tramia Jackson, and Karen Hammerness

    Chapter 5

    Foucauldian Discourses of Power

    Discourses of Dissent: How Competing Agendas Prevent or Enable Sustainable Change Taking Place within Twenty-First Century Art Museums

    Emily Pringle

    Chapter 6

    Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Feminist Theory

    Female-Responsive Exhibit Design: Explorations of a Research-Practice Partnership

    Lisa Sindorf, Toni Dancstep, Veronica Garcia-Luis, Eric Dimond, Sam Haynor, Vicente Oropeza, Jessica Strick, Diane Whitmore, and Mary-Elizabeth Yarbrough 

    Chapter 7

    Theories of Rightful Presence in Socio-Cultural Contexts

    Vicious Cycles: Museums Marginalize the Museum Educators They Hire to Engage Marginalized Communities 

    Bronwyn Bevan, Cecilia Garibay, and Rabiah Mayas

    Chapter 8

    Social Models of Disability and Museum Research

    Inclusion and Accessibility in Science Museums: Voices from Brazil

    Jessica Norberto Rocha, Mariana Fernandes, and Luisa Massarani

    Chapter 9

    Embodied Theory and Lived Experience

    Museums are Burning: Dare We Engage a Liberatory Imagination in Practice and Research?

    Shannon K. McManimon and Ayaan Natala



    Bronwyn Bevan, PhD, worked at the Exploratorium in San Francisco for almost 25 years, starting as a project coordinator for a program working with teachers, developing collaborations with universities and CBOs, and ultimately overseeing research and serving as a member of the senior management team. Her research examines how learning can be organized to empower individuals and communities. 

    Bahia Ramos is director of arts at the Wallace Foundation. She leads the team responsible for the strategy and implementation of the foundation’s work in areas including building audiences for the arts and promoting arts education for young people. Before arriving at Wallace, Ramos served as program director of the arts for the Knight Foundation. In that role, she built national partnerships and initiatives with organizations such as ArtPlace and Sundance, and worked on the local level to bring arts experiences to diverse audiences and neighborhoods.