Museum culture and identity ownership : the shifting role of museums and their exhibitions in the 21st century



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This project examines, critiques and develops the role museums play in shaping and maintaining consciousness and identity within US and Mexican society. Key to this investigation are the ideals of what traditionally constitutes a museum and who determines what messages are conveyed and who has the opportunity to experience and receive the messages. Ultimately museums have an incredible impact on and responsibility towards the communities they serve and their role as communicators of social and cultural messages cannot be ignored. Museums are the spaces in which communal consciousness is not only created but also preserved. The museum should educate, engage and enlighten as well as connect communities. The development of a new progressive museum model is necessary to achieve and uphold these tenants. This project conducts a comparative analysis of Museos Comunitarios (Community Museums) in Oaxaca, Mexico and the Museo Alameda in the United States, focusing on the mission and founding principals as well as exhibition choice and institutional operating mechanisms. This analysis will forecast how these institutions and exhibitions impact the trajectory of the communities they encounter and outline the new role of the museum in the 21st century.