I created the graduate course “Museums, Activism and Social Change”, which I have taught at the University of Toronto from 2021-2022 and will soon teach in New York University’s Program in Museum Studies.

“Museums, Activism and Social Change” takes as an entry point the rise of activist interventions in and around museums and the growing scholarly interest in the concept of museum activism (Janes and Sandell, 2019). This course explores the relationship between museums, activism, and social change from a global and historical perspective, situating museums as sites of constant struggle. Grounded in the premise that museums operate within distinct social and political contexts, this course provides an overview of selected social movements as they relate to museums and ultimately shape museum practice. Focusing on various case studies of protests and resistance throughout museum history, such as “Slasher Mary” and the Rokeby Venus (1914), the Lubicon Nation’s boycott of The Spirit Sings (1988), or more recent interventions by the collective Art Not Oil, this course demonstrates that the merging of social activism and museums is not new; rather, that it has accompanied and affected the work of museum professionals since the early twentieth century (Robertson, 2019).

This course was inspired by, and builds on: