Cultural Sensitivity in Museum Stewardship

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Devon Akmon's presentation delivered at the Registrars Committee of the American Association of Museums' (RC-AAM) fourth International Registrars Symposium (IRS 2011) in Houston, Texas. November 4-6, 2011

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Cultural Sensitivity in Museum Stewardship

  1. 1. Cultural Sensitivity in Museum Stewardship Devon M. Akmon Deputy Director | Arab American National Museum
  2. 2. Mission: The Arab American National Museumdocuments, preserves and presents the history, culture and contributions of Arab Americans. http://www.arabamericanmuseum.o rg
  3. 3. • To further our educational and public programs • To dispel stereotypes and misconceptions • To meet rapid growth and increased demands • To document, preserve and celebrate Arab American history and culture Building a Museum http://www.arabamericanmuseum.o rg
  4. 4. http://www.arabamericanmuseum.o rg …In a Post-9/11 Environment
  5. 5. Initial Challenges • What kind of museum and who would it be for? • Fear of reinforcing stereotypes or “outsider image” • How to best reflect the diversity of the community • The question of representation • Constructing an Arab American identity http://www.arabamericanmuseum.o rg
  6. 6. “A Democratic Grassroots Approach” • Assess the (national) community’s support for a museum • Create a Museum Task Force for guidance and fund raising • Build upon established relationships • Work with regional committees throughout the county • Build a consensus and respond to the community http://www.arabamericanmuseum.o rg
  7. 7. Collections & Interpretation http://www.arabamericanmuseum.o rg Example: Coming to America gallery
  8. 8. • Utilize personal stories that reflect the diversity of the Arab American community • Stress the similarities of the immigrant story common to all ethnic communities • Employ empathy and personal connections to bridge cultural gaps http://www.arabamericanmuseum.o rg Interpretation
  9. 9. Current Collections Initiatives • Continue to collect three-dimensional objects • Building major archival collections • Collecting oral histories of Arab Americans • Collecting born-digital materials • Blogs, social media, websites, photos and videos • Themes including immigration, 9/11 and “Islamaphobia” http://www.arabamericanmuseum.o rg
  10. 10. • StoryCorps event over 9/11 anniversary weekend • Well-known Arab American individuals • Patriots & Peacemakers • Ten Years Later community project Available for free listening and download Oral History Initiative http://www.arabamericanmuseum.o rg
  11. 11. Archiving the Internet
  12. 12. Archive-it | Internet Archive
  13. 13. Devon Akmon Deputy Director | Arab American National Museum ☎ 313.624.0208 dakmon@accesscommunity.org http://www.arabamericanmuseum.org http://www.devonakmon.com http://www.twitter.com/DevonAkmon http://www.linkedin.com/in/devonakmon http://www.slideshare.net/akmon Stay in touch!

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