18:25 - 18:35
Decolonizing the Colonies: Structural Challenges to Systemic Change in the American Art Museum

Short thesis



In recent decades museums have experienced a significant shift in emphasis, in the words of Stephen Weil, from being about something to be being for someone. Social justice movements including Decolonize the Museum and Black Lives Matter have recently accelerated calls for structural change in the United States especially with regard to the diversity of museum staff, audiences, collections and the stories they tell. This paper looks briefly at some challenges to structural change in the Art of the Americas wing of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in which one finds a potent blend of aesthetic and social hierarchies mapped onto the physical spaces of the permanent collection. Opened to great fanfare and extraordinary expense just ten years ago, the Americas Wing already appears in need of revision. 

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