The Challenge: Connecting the Past with Present Social Justice Issues

In class we talked about ways in which museums can connect the past with the present in discussing issues like immigration and racism. We talked about how the National Park Service is trying to identify Hispanic sites and how museum professionals may be able to interpret these sites to connect it with issues like immigration today. I believe some museums study the history of a group of people like Native Americans, African Americans, and Hispanics to demonstrate their interest in diversity. However, it is more challenging to connect the history to the issues minorities are dealing with today.

Museum professionals can learn how to utilize objects in their collections, interpret historical sites, and create programs about the history of minorities and make it relevant to issues that African Americans, Hispanics, women, LGBT, and other groups are facing today. Their history is often not represented in museums in a way that empowers them and museums need to change that.

Museums have a responsibility to the public to challenge them to break down stereotypes, engage in dialogue about current issues and not consider the history of racism as an issue of the past. We have to find ways to deal with controversy, be willing to take risks and make mistakes. Museums need to show the public that they are willing to take up the challenge and embrace the issues that are still plaguing society today. Racism, religious intolerance, and discrimination are all issues that are still relevant today.

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