The Inclusive Museum


At the outset of the planning for CCLI, the leadership team worked to synthesize the literature that would provide the theoretical grounding for the CCLI framework for change. An link to the document, a table of contents, and an excerpt from the document are included below.

The Inclusive Museum: A Framework for Sustainable and Authentic Institutional Change  (Full Document, .pdf)

Cecilia Garibay and Laura Huerta Migus

Table of Contents
Case Literature on Museums and Diversity
Organizational Change
Organizational Change Models
Systems approach to change
The learning organization
Strategic Diversity Management
Cultural Competence
A Framework for Authentic and Sustainable Change


Issues of museum accessibility and inclusiveness have been a constant source of attention in the sector for more than twenty years. Museums, as cultural institutions whose focus is curating social learning experiences for visitors – either through artifacts and objects (i.e., “collections) or inquiry-based built environments. Much discussion in the industry has focused on inclusion in curating experiences, considering how to balance “traditional” content (reflecting dominant culture, in this case Northern European norms of child development, scientific learning, etc.) and “culturally relevant” content (reflecting non-dominant cultural narratives and worldviews). Especially in non-collecting museums, such as children’s museums and science centers, museum experiences are designed around interactions and content which are meant to be universal or empirical truths, such as norms for family learning and basic principles of scientific phenomena. While these experiences are rarely explicitly framed as reflecting the history and values of dominant cultural groups, their presentation as universal or “culture-less.” However, as is noted in the 2009 National Research Council report:

In other words, there is no cultureless or neutral perspective, no more than a photograph or painting could be without perspective. Everything is cultured, including the layout of designed experiences, such as museums, and the practices associated with teaching science in school (Bell, et al, 2009, p. 214).

A challenge for many museums is how to navigate various perspectives while still preserving the identity and serving the mission of the institution (Snir, 2011) – how are non-dominant cultures and cultural knowledge given space in museums? How can culturally-relevant experiences be cultivated in an equitable way? For the purposes of this document, successful curation of culturally-relevant content and experiences is approached as an outcome of culturally competent organizational practices in museums. Through review of evidence drawn from the fields of museum and visitor studies, organizational development, and cultural competence and diversity management, we seek to develop a comprehensive framework for museum leaders to transform individual institutions and the museum field at large in maintaining their elite status and cultivating a new image as non-elitist social and cultural spaces.