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Do museums do enough to attract new audiences?
11 May 2012
Leicester, University of
Museums around the world need to increase their efforts to reach new audiences and engage traditionally under-represented groups, according to a new book.
Professor Richard Sandell, Head of the University's School of Museum Studies, and Eithne Nightingale, the Victoria and Albert Museum’s (V&A) Head of Equality and Diversity, have jointly edited Museums, Equality and Social Justice, a new book set to be launched at the V&A by Director Martin Roth on May 22.
The book brings together leading research and thinking from international museum leaders, academics and practitioners and aims to inform future innovation, developments and debates in museum practice.
It explores the variety of ways in which museums, galleries and heritage organisations across the world are engaging with broader social and political debates about equality, cultural rights and social justice.
It looks at the kinds of audiences museums attract, the staff they employ and the communities with whom they collaborate as well as exploring the ways in which museums represent diverse histories, identities and life stories.
Eithne Nightingale said: "Although many museums have pursued initiatives to reach out and engage new audiences there are also worrying signs, especially in the current economic climate, that progress towards making museums more inclusive and equitable organisations and places for everyone to participate in and benefit from is slowing down and even reversing."
Professor Sandell said: "There is now a growing body of evidence to show that museums don’t simply reflect prevailing attitudes about equality, they can actively shape the kinds of conversations society has about peoples’ rights, about fairness and social justice. This creates opportunities for museums but also places a responsibility on institutions to think hard about the kinds of narratives they present."
The book will be launched at the V&A by the Museum’s Director, Professor Martin Roth, on Tuesday 22 May 2012.