2:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Curating Change:
Activism in Museums

Shauna Allen, Museum Educator / PhD Candidate, University College Cork


About the Session


National Museum of Ireland, Rainbow Revolution. Image courtesy of Shauna Allen. 

In keeping pace with the museum sector's growing commitment to social impact and moral responsibility, how can museums appropriately, meaningfully, and effectively engage in museum activism? In a world full of inequalities and injustices, and deep social, cultural, and political divisions, museums can do much more than showcase great works of art and exhibit historical collections.

In an effort to promote positive social change, there is a growing expectation for the twenty-first century museum to develop a greater social consciousness by recognizing and addressing issues like marginalization, racism, and the global climate emergency by way of museum activism. This presentation will introduce the concept of museum activism, demonstrate aspects of this emerging practice, and present guidance in advocating for and fostering a global society of mutual respect.


Questions to Consider

  • How can museums use and build their collections to both make an activist statement and inspire activism?
  • What roles can a museum take in supporting activist movements and working with local activists within its walls?
  • What ethical and moral obligations do museums have to take an emphatic stand on activist or social issues?


About the Speaker


Shauna Allen
she / her

Shauna is a settler Canadian from Treaty 6 territory. She has worked in the museum sector for over 15 years, predominantly in learning programs. Most of her career has been based in Alberta where she has worked at sites like the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village and Royal Alberta Museum. She was also the Museum Director at Museums by the Sea in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. Shauna is currently pursuing her PhD in Museum Studies at University College Cork, Ireland. Her research is an exploration of the ways in which activist museums can disrupt the status quo in pursuit of equality, social justice, and climate action.





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