Date of Graduation

Fall 12-11-2020

Document Access

Restricted Project/Capstone - USF access only

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Museum Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Museum Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Paula Birnbaum


The summer of 2020, with its instances of police violence and national protests against institutional racism in America, led some to question the relevance of U.S. Art Museums in increasingly racially diverse communities while calling on art museums to reexamine their responses to issues of racial equity and inclusion. This capstone seeks to address these questions, by proposing social justice education (SJE) as one tool that art museums can use to incorporate discussions around racial injustice into educational programs, which may perhaps lead to the re-imagination of art museums as greater spaces for community inclusion and racial equity. SJE emerged from the realm of critical educational pedagogies and utilizes the elements of discussion, reflection, and action to specifically consider aspects of institutional, societal, and individual oppression. In this capstone, I argue that SJE’s focus on institutional racism makes it a relevant tool for art museums to use to interrogate how some of their historic background and current practices may still inscribe racial norms. However, through interviews with current museum educators, I discovered that SJE is not a critical pedagogy that is currently incorporated into museum education programs that touch upon race-based topics. There are many reasons for these continued impediments to SJE in art museums, yet I maintain that the use of a specific SJE framework may help art museum educators overcome these challenges. I specifically advocate for Annemarie Vaccaro’s framework for social justice education as it includes both theoretical and practical elements of SJE. The use of such a model may lead to the greater adoption of SJE, which can function as a relevant tool to address racial inequities in art museums and their greater communities, possibly leading to greater community co-creation and racial inclusion.

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