The Dialogue of Multiculturalism: Encyclopedic Art Museums in the United States, and Their Non-Western Exhibitions
By: Di Wu
Published: 2017
Uploaded: 03/27/2017
Uploaded by: Arts Administration Program
Pockets: Arts Administration Program Theses (Permission Required), Arts Administration: General, Community Arts, Cultural & Urban Planning, International, Multiculturalism, Visual Arts, Museums, Crafts
Tags: Art Museum, community, culture, exhibition, Multiculturalism

Description/Abstract: Under a backdrop of globalization, art museums are increasingly called upon to broaden their accessibility and connect to a greater, more diverse population in the United States. This thesis focuses on how three museums in the New York City – specifically the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Queens Museum – do so by developing and planning for non-Western and culturally specific exhibitions. The three exhibitions studied via interviews with educational and curatorial staff are China: Through the Looking Glass, Ai Weiwei: According to What?, and Queens International 2016, respectively. Across three chapters, I introduce, study, compare, and analyze how these three institutions handle the challenges, risks, and opportunities in their exploration of multiculturalism. The thesis finds that curatorial planning and educational programming do not always meet consensus when the purpose of an exhibition drifts away from the mission or when the mission is relatively broad and vague. Meanwhile, art museum administrators hold different understanding of diversity, and the deviating beliefs usually arise from the leaders’ visions and the organization’s main mission. However, this difference also indicates that art museums have realized the predicament of cultural organizations facing demographic shifts, and hence may lead to a better possibility of success in cultural reformation.