Welcome to module 14

Introduction to MSM 211 Module 14 – Contemporary Museum Issues by lead instructor Josh Reuther. (2:26)

Learning Objectives


Module 14 will introduce students to some of the prominent issues of concern for museum professionals in 2020.

By the end of this module students will be able to:

  • Name three contemporary concerns of museum professionals
  • Identify two ways museums contribute to society
  • Describe three climate change related issues associated with museum collections

lecture THEMES

Health and Wellbeing

Instructor Josh Reuther discusses the relationship of the concepts of health and well-being in relation to museums. (11:39)

Dr. Sveta Yamin-Pasternak: Exploring Cuisine and Material Culture for Museum Studies with Examples of Foods Made with Local Plants and Mushrooms in Chukotka

Recorded zoom lecture by Dr. Sveta Yamin-Pasternak use Passcode: rHZ+L73v

Decolonization, Cultural Sovereignty, & Social Justice

Museums in the 21st century are like many institutions today that are undergoing profession-wide self reflection centering on topics related to  “DEAI” – Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion. Specific actions such as decolonization, cultural sovereignty, and other social justice actions attempt to shift power from the dominant (white) society and redirect it to peoples who have been repressed and subjugated over the centuries. Readings for this week provide both institutionalized views of decolonization (AAM TrendsWatch 2019) as well as writings from those who are part of the effort to transform museum work. Take some time to read through @ChangetheMuseum posts on Instagram to get a sense of the microaggressions BIPOC museum professionals face on a daily basis and think about why it is important that all museum professionals be aware of the systemic racism, not to mention sexism, that still exists in museums around the world.

Climate Change

Professor of Botany and Curator of the Herbarium Steffi Ickert-Bond discusses the 6th mass extinction during the biodiversity crisis of the anthropocene with examples of shifting geography of life, inequality of diversity knowledge, food sovereignty, crop wild relatives and what role museums play in detecting and mitigating biodiversity loss. Museum curators and professionals working within natural history and cultural museums are uniquely equipped to be engaged in a mission that is constructive and socially worthwhile – documenting, researching, and contributing to mitigation of biodiversity and biocultural diversity loss. (19:53)

Andres – Citizen science. Please see the required reading on “Citizen Science as a Tool for Augmenting Museum Collection Data from Urban Areas” – D. Spear et al. (2017)

Scott Shirar  discusses the use of museum collections as paleoarchives to provide data on paleoclimate and paleoenvironmental change. (11:08)

Sustainability & the Future of Museums

What is sustainability? How does it apply to museums? In this lecture, UA Museum Director Patrick Druckenmiller explores economic sustainability, a timely topic given the impacts to the financial well-being of museums globally. Even when not dealing with a pandemic, museums face constant economic threats; here we discuss the major funding streams for museums and why it is important to have a diversified financial foundation. We use the UA Museum of the North as a case study.


Contemporary museum issues encompass a great deal of specialized terminology. Learn this list of terms to better comprehend the readings and videos for this module.

  1. Museomics
  2. Cancel culture
  3. Erasure
  4. Decolonization
  5. Cultural sovereignty
  6. Microaggressions
  7. Biodiversity
  8. Citizen Science
  9. Paleoarchives
  10. Anthropocene
  11. BIPOC
  12. Social Prescribing

Activities / Assignments

Reading / Video content



African Burial Ground (17:56)

NYC African Burial Ground (2:40)

The Anthropocene (87 minutes)

What is the extinction debt? (1:31)

The Breathing Planet Campaign (6:12)



For Exploration:


Log into our course shell in Canvas and go to ‘Quizzes’ on the left side menu.

Take ‘14. Quiz’: Vocabulary relating to Contemporary Museum Issues. You will have up to three attempts to match the vocabulary and definitions. Click over to Canvas to take quiz 14.

Meet Up

Time to get together! This is optional but highly encouraged. We will meet via Zoom at 12:30 pm (AKDT) on Friday April 28. The link to the session can be found in this Google Document (you must be part of the class to view the document). This is our final Meet Up and will look forward to hearing your evaluation of the course and suggestions how we can improve it. If you are unable to join the meeting will be recorded.

Assignment – Discussion

No discussion board assignment for this last week. Please spend that time working on your final!

Looking Forward

We look forward to reading your final assignments. Please be sure to complete the course evaluation so we can integrate changes for next semester!

Did you know?

Fun tidbit not to be tested on.

The National Museum of the Faroe Islands has a permanent exhibition that offers an experience of the geology, botany, zoology, archaeology, folk-life, and history of the Faroe Islands. The open air museum, the farm of Hoyvíksgarður is situated in a beautiful green valley just outside Torshavn. Tinganes, where parliament met for the first time in year 825, is thought to be one of the oldest parliamentary meeting places in the world still in use.