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