Call for Papers for Exhibition journal

Proposals due July 16, 2024 for the Spring 2025 Issue

Our editorial advisors will vet proposals in a blind review process, and you will be notified of acceptance or non-acceptance by mid-August, 2024. Articles of 2,000 words maximum, along with high-resolution images, will be due mid-October 2024.

Theme: The Ethics Issue

Recent developments have shone a light on the question of museum ethics in the United States. Over the past year, the Manhattan District Attorney has seized numerous high-profile works of art from major museums on suspicion of them being looted from their countries of origin. And, late in 2023, the Biden administration updated the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) regulations in an attempt to speed up the pace of research and returns to Native communities. The new rules require the shuttering or removal of major displays of Indigenous art and artifacts at institutions across the country. These and others are important legal developments that reveal much about evolving expectations for museums and their behavior. But is compliance with a warrant or adherence to the letter of the law enough to qualify as ethical behavior? AAM’s Code of Ethics states that legal compliance is assumed and is a bare minimum, and that museums need to adhere to ethical standards to retain the public trust. So, with this in mind, how should our institutions move beyond legal obligations to instead embrace notions of what is right, just, and equitable?

For this issue, we seek articles that explore the wide-ranging ethical considerations of exhibition-making. Whether addressing calls for internal transformation in relation to pay, hiring practices, or seats at the decision-making table or considering appeals for justice in relation to representation, restitution, and repatriation, all articles should demonstrate how museums are grappling with these complex issues and suggest how exhibition teams can move past legal requirements toward an understanding of ethical responsibility based on care and mutual respect. Proposals for this issue might address any of the following questions:

  • What might a code of ethics relating to exhibitions look like? How can museums undertake such work in ways that center equity and inclusion?
  • Who should be involved in decisions regarding interpretive, display, and design choices? Whose perspectives should be taken into consideration when deciding how, or even if, to collect or display an object?
  • How can internal staff and external activists work together to bring about ethical resolutions when objects are suspected of being looted or stolen, or otherwise acquired in ways that fall short of contemporary understandings of ethics?
  • What is the role of digital platforms in sharing provenance information and creating a climate of transparency and advocacy? Similarly, what is the role of transparency in exhibition interpretation?
  • How do our ethical responsibilities shift when we are displaying living collections or stewarding natural environments?
  • How do we define ethical standards when working with community advisors? What is the role of compensation in creating just relationships between museums and their partners?
  • What questions should we ask when it comes to exhibition funding?
  • How can museum work be made more equitable? What role do unions have to play in this transformation?
  • What are the environmental impacts of exhibition design? What are the ethical implications of continuing to contribute to unsustainable and wasteful practices?
  • How does DEAI work intersect with and build on our understanding of exhibition ethics?
  • What do museums owe to their visitors?

And, of course, this list is not exhaustive. Proposals can focus on a specific exhibition or provide an overview of exhibitions and practices. The exhibitions and/or elements discussed can be created by or for museums of all disciplines, historical sites, galleries, institutions that collect and display living collections, or others. Proposals might come from designers, exhibit developers, interpretive planners, curators, writers, educators, or others who create and contribute to exhibitions. In all cases, accepted authors will be expected to write articles that illuminate larger issues; are descriptive and critical and analytical; and evaluation, even if informal, must evidence arguments for the strengths and weaknesses of a project.

How to write and submit a proposal for the call for papers

There are two parts to a call for papers proposal (which must be submitted as a Word document):

Part 1: Description (400 words max)

The description must:

  • Include a proposed title for the article.
  • Clearly and succinctly convey what the article’s thesis will be.
  • Indicate the approaches, strategies, or knowledge that readers will take away from the article.
  • Convey how the article would raise questions or illuminate larger issues that are widely applicable (especially if the proposal focuses on a single project).

Please note that accepted articles will be expected to provide critical, candid discussions about issues and challenges, successes and failures, and to provide some level of evaluation, even if informal.

Part 2: Brief Bio

Please provide a brief bio (no more than one paragraph) for each author that describes their background and qualifications for writing the article (please do not include resumes or CVs).

Send all proposals as Word documents via email to Jeanne Normand Goswami, Editor, Exhibition at: Submissions from colleagues and students around the world are welcomed and encouraged.

Other ways to contribute

Would you like to contribute to Exhibition but don’t have a project that fits the call? We are looking for volunteers to contribute to the journal as book reviewers and exhibition critique writers.

What we’ll need:

If you are interested in being considered for these opportunities, please let us know:

  • Your name, title/role, institution (if applicable), geographic location (so we can match you with exhibitions in your area), and any areas of particular interest or focus (e.g., are you a public history professional, art historian, scientist, or designer? Do you have experience with accessibility or DEAI?).
  • Whether you are interested in writing book reviews, exhibition critiques, or both (NOTE: Book reviewers will receive a complimentary copy of the chosen book).
  • If you have a specific idea in mind for either a book review or exhibition critique, please provide a brief (150-word max) description that includes why you think it would make a good addition to this issue (NOTE: you do not need to have a specific idea to be considered).

Please send requested information via email by July 16, 2024 to:

Jeanne Normand Goswami, Editor, Exhibition at: Submissions from colleagues and students around the world are welcomed and encouraged.

Click here to subscribe to Exhibition or to access the archive of back issues.

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