AbstractsSocial Work

Activist Social Work in Small Museums: A Community-Level Exploration

by Zachary Stocks

Institution: University of Washington
Year: 2014
Keywords: Community; Museums; Small Museums; Social Work; Museum studies
Record ID: 2039833
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1773/25982


While there is much dialogue around the potential for museums to engage in social work, there is little research on how museums practice social work at the community level. This study sought to explore the ways in which small museums engage in activist social work in their local communities. Data from three case studies inform how small museums can work to address local social problems. The research revealed four findings: 1) small museums see themselves as social work agents relative to the success of their social services; 2) small museums' social work is a collaborative and self-sustaining process; 3) small museums' social work is a mutual investment in the museum itself and the community; and 4) small museums assess successful social work through noticeable reductions in identified social problems as a result of their social service. An expanded understanding of small museums' social work provides new knowledge for museums of all sizes to use to help combat social problems in their communities.