Written by Mike Murawski (updated July 2020)
Learn more by visiting MuseumsAreNotNeutral.com.
Museums have the potential to be relevant, socially-engaged spaces in our communities, acting as agents of positive change. Yet, too often, they strive to remain “above” the political and social issues that affect our lives — embracing a myth of neutrality.
Well, MUSEUMS ARE NOT NEUTRAL, plain and simple. Let’s come together and spread this message.
Museums Are Not Neutral is a global advocacy initiative co-produced by La Tanya S. Autry and I to expose the myth of museum neutrality and demand equity-based transformation across institutions. The initiative began in August 2017 through an online t-shirt campaign and the social media hashtag #MuseumsAreNotNeutral. During its first 3 years, the initiative has sold more than three thousand shirts to people around the entire world, raised more than $20,000 for social justice organizations and relief funds supporting museum workers, and engaged more than one million people across social media platforms. This movement continues to grow, bring people together, and demand change happen now.
“Our initiative spotlights actions for change and exposes how the claim of neutrality fosters unequal power relations, and Museums Are Not Neutral became my way to inform people that I reject the status quo. It’s one of my tools for improving the museum field, and it is now a global community.” – La Tanya S. Autry, co-producer & cultural organizer
“White supremacy thrives within this tyranny of the universal, the neutral, the apolitical, the fair and balanced, and the objective. Acknowledging that museums are not neutral is a meaningful and urgent step toward gaining awareness of the powerful role that these forces play within these institutions. It is a crucial step toward recognizing one’s own role in questioning it, interrupting it, and being a part of taking transformative action to replace it.” – Mike Murawski, co-producer & change leader
Add Your Voice
Join the conversation using the hashtag #MuseumsAreNotNeutral on Twitter. Through social media advocacy, we’re bringing together a large, growing community of people throughout the world to share questions, practices & resources and to hold institutions accountable.
Wear the Message
Help spread the Museums Are Not Neutral message by purchasing your own t-shirt, sweatshirt, hoodie, coffee mug, or tote bag at our Bonfire.com Store. Join the thousands of changemakers across the globe in proudly sharing the message, sparking conversations, and growing the community.
Support Museum Workers
Profits from each product purchased from this campaign now (updated July 2020) go to support the Museum Workers Relief Fund, a mutual aid fund organized by and for museum workers and founded on the principles of dignity, justice, and humanity.
Here is a list of some resources and articles that tackle the issue of museum neutrality (last updated July 2020). Be sure to follow the hashtag #MuseumsAreNotNeutral on social media to get connected to the community.
A Moment for Accountability, Transformation, & Real Questions,by Mike Murawski, ArtMuseumTeaching.com, June 3, 2020.
Museums are Not Neutral with Movement Co-Founders La Tanya S. Autry and Mike Murawski, Monument Lab podcast, May 14, 2020.
Museums Are Not Neutral: We Are Stronger Together, by La Tanya S. Autry and Mike Murawski, Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art 5, no. 2 (Fall 2019)
Museums Are Not Neutral, Museopunks podcast, June 28, 2018.
Changing the Things I Cannot Accept: Museums Are Not Neutral, by La Tanya S. Autry, Artstuffmatters blog, October 15, 2017
Museums Are Not Neutral: Wear It Across Your Heart, by La Tanya S. Autry Artstuffmatters blog, August 31, 2017
“The Idea of Museum Neutrality: Where Did It Come From,” by Gretchen Jennings, Museum Commons blog, June 26, 2017
“Museums Are Not Neutral,” by Anabel Roque Rodriguez, September 2017
“Your neutral is not our neutral,” by Nathan “Mudyi” Sentance, January 2018.
Sean Kelley, “Beyond Neutrality,” August 2016. https://www.aam-us.org/2016/08/23/beyond-neutrality/