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College of Human Development, Culture, and Media
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Museum Professions Scholarly Projects

Shannon Hahn 

Deaccession Decision-Making During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Multi-Site Case Study of Art Museums in the United States 
At the beginning of the pandemic, museums were forced to close, resulting in significant losses in earned revenue. To address budgetary shortfalls across the museum field, the Association of Art Museum Directors temporarily relaxed their deaccessioning guidelines to allow museums to sell works of art from their collections and use proceeds to support the direct care of collections. This project utilized a qualitative multi-site case study and textual analysis to examine deaccession decisions of four art museums in the United States that deaccessioned works of art during the pandemic. Findings demonstrated that museums were taking advantage of the new relaxed guidelines, while also following pre-pandemic best practices for deaccessioning.

Samantha Becker 

The 2020 Awakening: A Study On Exhibiting Topics of Race and Identity in Mid-Sized Art Museums
After the many racial injustices that occurred in 2020, cultural institutions have been motivated to educate the public on historical and contemporary topics of race and identity. This project sought to analyze exemplary cases of exhibition production with topics of race and identity in mid-sized art museums. The goal was to provide a set of recommendations for exhibiting these topics to bolster community trust. Two museums were studied–the Montclair Art Museum and Newark Museum of Art–which revealed that the exhibitions at both institutions were relevant to contemporary issues, engaging to their respective communities, and educational for a wide range of audiences.

Elyse Gombas 

Through Fire and Water: Protecting Museum Collections Against Increasing Climate Change Risks
As stewards of cultural heritage, museums have the responsibility to protect their collections from increasing climate change risks. Literature revealed that though cultural heritage sites are threatened by climate change, museums lack sufficient climate change adaptation strategies. In response, this study examined how museums can create effective climate change adaptation strategies. Through a qualitative comparative case study of the Getty Center and Newark Museum of Art and content and textual analyses, the study identified key themes of institutional mission, values, and policies, research, education and training, physical prevention, and collaboration as requirements for successful adaptation.

Sua Lorena Mendez

Museums & Community Resilience: Improving Post-Crisis Outreach in Latinx Communities by Combining Library and Museum Practices
Museums are held in the public trust and are accountable to their communities, including minority groups such as the Latinx population. Despite this, museums struggle to engage with Latinx communities, who are particularly affected during and after a crisis or emergency. Currently, museums do not have professional guidelines on supporting community resilience, or a community’s ability to respond to and recover from a crisis. In contrast, libraries, which function as similar community organizations, have field-wide community resilience plans and professional librarians have actively researched how libraries can assist their communities after a significant crisis. Using a multi-case library and museum comparative study, this project aimed to identify how museums may improve post-crisis outreach in Latinx communities and become integral to community resilience.

Katharine Anne Nelson

Decolonize This Place: The Activist Potential of Anthropology Museums
Reviewed literature has revealed that museum activism can benefit society, though a gap appeared pertaining to anthropology museums. Historically, anthropology museums were tied to colonialism and even racism, and thus need to evolve to become more socially responsible. Through a qualitative case study of four anthropology museums in the United States – the Museum of Us, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography, the Penn Museum and the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology – this study examined how anthropology museums can change and engage with activism.