Here’s an earth-shattering revelation: when asked to choose between politicians, brands, celebrities and museums, participants of a recent survey said they trust museums the most and politicians the least. While that doesn’t come as a surprise to most of us, the survey brought to light some other interesting perceptions people have about museums.
Three quarters of respondents said yes or maybe when asked if they ‘believe that museums should have something to say about social issues?’, with that number the highest among those who visit museums the most.
And it’s the under 30 crowd that’s “more likely to think that museums should speak up about social issues.”
So while that doesn’t necessarily answer the question of whether museums should be activists (what do you think?), it leaves a HUGE opportunity for them to connect with audiences looking for a non-threatening, neutral and genuine perspective on social issues.
Today we know museums as places to see beautiful things, but also to question and gain perspective. For them to also address contemporary issues could go a long way to helping us better understand the world around us.
A word of caution though: there’s a big difference between offering relevant programming and taking a stand. Some things we should be figuring out for ourselves, so for those museums going so far as to taking a stand they must be careful not to risk the trust we’ve placed in them.
So how are museums helping us think about today’s issues? We looked through culturaliv.com‘s calendar of ongoing and upcoming exhibitions to highlight a few shows that might help us pick up on a thing or two:
I Was Raised On The Internet
International Center of Photography, New York
Face of Battle
National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC
Revolution: Russia and Europe
Deutsches Historisches, Berlin
Abdulnasser Gharem: Pause
LACMA, Los Angeles
Fashion After Fashion
Museum of Art & Design, New York
Religion in Early America
National Museum of American History