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Hello Museum People!

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog

My name is Pinky and I am from The Pinky Show. Bunny and I were invited do a guest CFM blog, so here we are. We realize that many of you may not know who we are or why we are interested in museums, so we will start with that.

We run an education project called The Pinky Show that studies social structures, ideology, and power. As you can imagine, this makes us particularly interested in certain institutional formations – especially schools and museums. For us, museums are fun to study because they’re so often discussed via such a fascinating mess of contradictory, reductive representations that make it almost impossible to see clearly what they really are or how they’re really functioning. For example:

Museums are instrumental in drawing attention to under-known histories and knowledge;
Museums are inherently conservative in nature.

Museums help educate the general public about democracy and injustice;
Museums are instrumental in maintaining the hegemony of the ruling class.

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Museums try to be as fair as possible in the presentation of histories and ideas;
Museums allow themselves veto-power over marginalized people’s ability to represent themselves.

Museums promote compassion and fairness;
Museum institutional culture is extremely hierarchical and anti-democratic.

Community programming is a high priority for most museums;
Museums’ community programming is not done with communities, it is done for communities.

Museums want broad-base support and audience participation;
Certain classes of people are not welcome.

Museums are all about education;
Feminist, radical, grassroots, and other forms of counter-hegemonic educational
practices don’t count as legitimate forms of education in museum education departments.

Museums are interested in bettering society;
Museums uphold the dominant values and practices of capitalism.

Museums are constantly mindful of the future;
Museums people do not think revolution, only reform.

We could go on and on with a hundred more examples, but basically we just think (hope!) that trying to untangle this giant heap of narrative-static will bring us closer to unlocking the mysteries of how people understand their complicated relationships to history and power. Which reminds me…

Next month, May 24, 25, & 26, The Pinky Show will be at the American Association of Museums’ Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo in Los Angeles. We’ll be there, along with over 5,000 museum people from all over the world, to do two things:

1. We’ll be exhibiting a small collection of museum-related artifacts that we brought back from our recent expedition to the future. (Actually, it would be more accurate to add an “s” – as in “futures” – since there are actually an infinite number of futures…) Our expedition was not a comprehensive survey of possible futures, but rather, due to the high cost of gasoline, we were only able to stop off at a few random future-moments. However, the objects that we were able to bring back with us are pretty neat to look at. Time-travel is a pretty big hassle so if you can stop by for even a few minutes that would make our day – especially for Bunny, who really wore herself out building the time travel machine.

2. We’ll also be bringing a video camera & microphone and will be interviewing anyone willing to share their thoughts and ideas concerning the future of museums. We’re focusing our attention on what you – museum people – have to say about where museums are headed because, One, you’re the ones who perform the day-to-day, hands-on transformational work that will directly reshape museums’ relationship with the general public; and Two, the general public isn’t allowed inside the convention hall.

We’re very excited to do something at the AAM Thing because we believe that museums are like everything else in the world – they can be used for good or they can be used for evil (or most likely some undetermined ratio of both), and of course if we can do something to nudge things more toward the former and away from the latter, that’s wonderful. Coming at things from an education perspective, we always think it’s a good idea to start where people are at, so showing up with a microphone and asking simple questions about the future of museums seems like a reasonable way to go. If you’re going to be there, please come looking for us! Hope to see you in Los Angeles!’

Pinky & Bunny

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  1. This is one of the events I regret missing the most. They could also add "Museums value professional development; Museums tend to only invest in developing mid-to-upper level management."

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