Contemporary American society is fraught with racial tension, making representation of all races and cultures an especially poignant issue. Museums are places where comprehensive narrative interpretations can result in facilitated dialogue among visitors of different races and cultures. This can, in turn, lead individuals to a deeper understanding of their identities in the context of today’s society and develop an ability for interracial and intercultural communication. This paper explores why using the participatory museum model will help cultural institutions embrace and learn from potentially controversial exhibits by including diverse perspectives of communities outside the museum. This is based on the premise that collaboration and communication with diverse groups of people will allow those involved to discuss ideas openly and work through points of contention as they arise.
This paper was submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Museum Studies.