Occupy Museums as Public Pedagogy and Justice Work

Tal Berry, Noah Fischer, Alyssa Greenberg, Arthur Polendo


For Occupy Museums, the mainstream art museum is an informal learning space, in which social, cultural and economic hierarchies are perpetuated by powerful individuals and corporations and absorbed by the public.  Museums privilege elite patrons and corporations, whose financing for exhibitions and programs has filled in the significant gaps left by severe cuts in public funding.  By resisting unionization efforts and relying on low-wage precarious labor, museums perpetuate labor injustices.  By furthering dominant narratives of art history and presenting an overwhelmingly white male artistic canon, museums reinforce social and cultural hierarchy.

This interview is organized into themed sections.  First, by exposing how museums teach visitors, Occupy Museums exposes invisible power imbalances and hierarchies.  Next, through interventions at institutions such as MoMA that promote public access to museums and collaboration, Occupy Museums hacks into this problematic museum pedagogy of strict hierarchy and passive learning.  Finally, Occupy Museums proposes an alternative museum pedagogy based on their own practices that promotes social justice.

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