Do museums do enough to attract new audiences?

Posted by pt91 at May 11, 2012 11:00 AM |
New book edited by University of Leicester academic and V&A researcher argues museums should do more to reach out to new audiences

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 11 May 2012

The book will be launched at the V&A by the Museum’s Director, Professor Martin Roth, on Tuesday 22 May 2012 from 6.30pm – 8.30pm. Media are invited to attend, to confirm your attendance contact Louise Phillips on 0207 942 2649 or (not for publication)

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.


Notes for editors

For more information, contact Professor Richard Sandell on 0116 252 3962.

Museums, Equality and Social Justice is published by Routledge as part of the series, Museum Meanings -  

The book will be launched at the V&A by the Museum’s Director, Professor Martin Roth, on Tuesday 22 May 2012. Reception (by invitation), 18.30 - 20.30, (Speeches 19.00).

The book comprises 21 provocative and original chapters including contributions by David Anderson, Director General of the National Museum of Wales and David Fleming, Director of National Museums Liverpool.

Eithne Nightingale is Head of Equality and Diversity at the V&A and has worked in equal opportunities, education, community development and museums for over 30 years. She has taken a lead on museum wide equality strategies; collaborated with culturally diverse communities on initiatives encompassing collections research, public programming and partnership development; and has written and lectured extensively on diversity in museums both in the UK and internationally.

Richard Sandell, is Professor and Head of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester and his research interests focus on museums, human rights and equality.  He is Series Editor, with Christina Kreps, of Museum Meanings. His books include Museums, Society, Inequality (2002); Museums, Prejudice and the Reframing of Difference (2007); Museum Management and Marketing with Robert Janes (2007) and, with Jocelyn Dodd and Rosemarie Garland Thomson, Re-Presenting Disability: activism and agency in the museum (2010).

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