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May 17, 2021

Dialogues and Discourses: Talking about Tough Topics in Museums



Virtual conversation:
“Dialogues and Discourses: Talking about Tough Topics in Museums”
on Monday, May 17, 7 PM CEDT (1 PM EDT)

Museums across the world are important sites for sharing objects, research, and ideas. They are also helping to drive discourse on challenging topics from climate change to systemic racism. At the same time, museums are grappling with many of their own practices of collecting, interpreting, connecting with underrepresented audiences. How are museums fostering complex conversations? What works, what doesn’t? Where do we go from here?

This panel was inspired by a 2019 transatlantic seminar for museum curators and educators which addressed these questions. Hosted at the Smithsonian Institution in cooperation with Fulbright Germany and the Leibniz Association, this transatlantic exchange also resulted in the most recent Journal of Museum Education, which is dedicated to topics developed from the seminar.


  • Julie Garner, Theater Specialist, Smithsonian National Museum of American History
  • Sarah Junk Hatcher, Head of Programs and Education, Indiana University of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • Frank Usbeck, Curator for the American Collections, State Ethnographic Collections Saxony / State Art Collections Dresden
  • Heike Zech, Deputy to Director General & Head of Exhibitions & Head of Decorative Arts before 1800, Germanisches Nationalmuseum
  • Barbara Stauffer, Chief of Community Programs, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (Facilitator)

Please view the recoding of the session below:

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