Designing for Engagement: Five Steps for Co-Creating Exhibits and Programs with Your Communities

Museums are changing how they interact with the communities they serve, adopting practices that are more inclusive and engaging for all. One of the practices they are increasingly turning to is co-creation: forming an equal partnership with one or more stakeholders to design and execute a mutually beneficial project, such as an exhibition or program.

By co-creating with a diversity of community partners, museums are facilitating cross-cultural exchange and connecting their collections to issues that resonate with even more people. As Cassie Chinn, Deputy Executive Director at the Wing Luke Asian Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, put it in a blog post for the Pew Center for Art & Heritage:

“Our desire is to know communities intimately. What breaks their hearts breaks ours, what fuels their passion fuels ours…It’s as if time spent in our exhibitions is time spent with someone else, person to person. And well, perhaps through the text panels, photographs, artifacts, documents, and multimedia installations—all of the stuff of exhibitions—in the end, that might be the best way to describe it: getting to know someone, meeting together, and creating something new.”

The shift towards co-creation is an exciting and necessary change for our field, but it can still feel overwhelming to put into practice. Many museum staff members struggle with how to implement these practices and find themselves unwittingly falling back into old habits. To help avoid this, here are five steps you can follow to create custom approaches to engagement driven by the interests and expertise of people in the communities that your museum serves.

Continue on to the American Alliance of Museums blog to continue this blog post:


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