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We the Museum

Author: Better Lemon Creative Audio

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We the Museum is a podcast for museum workers who want to form a more perfect institution. Hosted by the field's go-to podcast person, Hannah Hethmon, We the Museum episodes feature in-depth conversations with museum workers in the US and beyond. Explore ideas, programs, and exhibitions that inform and inspire. We the Museum is a space where we can all slow down and take a moment away from the day-to-day work to learn, grow, and expand our toolkit. Find out more at WeTheMuseum.com. This show is a production of Better Lemon Creative Audio. It's made possible by our show sponsor, Landslide Creative.
16 Episodes
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Let’s explore the power and possibility of pop-ups: temporary or ephemeral museum-y experiences. I’m joined by Maryland Humanities’ Robert Forloney for a discussion about the Smithsonian’s traveling pop-up program, Museum on Main Street, and how short-term exhibitions allow for more play, creativity, and risk-taking.  
Why are there mummies in your museum? Should they be there? What are visitors getting out of an encounter with ancient Egyptian remains? What happens when remains in museums become objectified and normalized to this extent? Is there an ethical way to display mummies? In this episode, I’m joined by Dr. Angela Stienne, a historian of museums and researcher in museum ethics based in Paris. You will never think about mummies in museums the same after this episode. Support our sponsor, Landslide Creative. Show Notes & Transcript: wethemuseum.com
Can museums and historic sites be leaders in environmental conservation and restoration? The Ford House in Michigan recently won a grant of up to $7 million from NOAA to restore the coastal habitats of their lakeside property. I talked to Ford House’s President & CEO, Mark Heppner, and their  Landscape and Natural Areas Manager, Kevin Drotos, to learn more. They shared the progress so far on this bold project and we discussed our field’s responsibilities to care for people and nature. Plus, get ready to learn some fun facts about flora and fauna in this region. Show Notes & Transcript: wethemuseum.com
Are museums welcoming spaces for transgender visitors and museum workers? Are academics in museum studies building out the theory needed for meaningful trans inclusion in museums? In this episode, we’re looking at how we in the museum field can support our transgender colleagues and community members, from museum studies classrooms to visitor bathrooms. My guest is Amelia Smith, a transgender museum professional writing and thinking at the intersection of museum studies and transgender studies. Notes & Transcript: WeTheMuseum.com
There are a lot of systemic issues in our field related to labor. Ignoring these issues won’t make them go away. In this episode, we’re taking a closer look at the problems around hiring practices in both the US and the UK. I chat about salary transparency, degree requirements, accessibility, and more with Sierra Van Ryck deGroot (Museum Hue) Ashleigh Hibbins (Fair Museum Jobs). They share ideas on how we can disrupt legacies of inequity and do better by the workers who make museums possible. Show Notes & Transcript: wethemuseum.com
There are 39 First American Nations in Oklahoma today, each with their own distinct culture and traditions. The newly-opened First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City is dedicated to telling all their stories—no small undertaking. In this episode, I speak to Dr. heather ahtone, FAM’s Director of Curatorial Affairs. She shares the history behind the museum, the Indigenous philosophy underpinning their exhibitions, and the way they are modeling Native-centered museum practices that honor Native lives and objects and let First Americans speak for themselves. Show Notes & Transcript: WeTheMuseum.com
The field of exhibition design may be niche, but the number of museum workers who design and use design principles regularly is vast. So many of us use design to solve problems every day without even realizing it. This episode will warm up and inspire the design part of your brain, whether you’re a full-time exhibition designer, a curator, an educator, or on the marketing team. My guest is Tim McNeil, a Professor of Design at the University of California Davis and Director of the UC Davis Design Museum. Tim has poured his 30 years of design experience into a new book, The Exhibition and Experience Design Handbook, which serves as a jumping-off point for this conversation. Show Notes & Transcript: wethemuseum.com
In 2026, the American LGBTQ+ Museum will open its doors in New York City. They’ll be housed in a dedicated 4,000 sq. ft. space inside New York’s oldest museum, the New York Historical Society. In this episode, I chat with the LGBTQ+ Museum’s Executive Director, Ben Garcia, about the Museum’s origins and its inclusive, intersectional, and activist approach. We also get into a discussion about inequities in our field and how Ben is trying to build a museum that’s truly equitable and inclusive—both inside and out—through a people-centered organizational culture. Transcript & Show Notes: WeTheMuseum.com
What’s it like working in museums in Iceland? Katie Teeter is American, but she’s been living in Iceland for ten years. She works at two museums, one private and one public, and is finishing up a Master’s in Museum Studies at the University of Iceland. I chatted with Katie about her career and learned some cool facts about the Icelandic museum field.We the Museum is currently in-between seasons, This is a bonus episode, which may become an occasional series about museum work around the world. This episode is sponsored by Landslide Creative. Show Notes & Transcript: WeTheMuseum.com
The 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence is almost here. How can museums and history organizations use the Semiquincentennial to promote a fuller story of American history, practice ethical commemoration, increase visitation, and boost funding for the field? In this episode, I discuss these questions with Madeleine Rosenberg, Pomeroy Foundation Semiquincentennial Manager at the American Association for State and Local History. Transcript & Show Notes: wethemuseum.com
Baltimore City Public Schools wanted to honor their food service workers, who plate up 88,000 free school meals a day and fed their community daily through pandemic closures. The Baltimore Museum of Industry wanted a project to foster social resilience. They collaborated to create Food for Thought, an exhibition featuring food service workers' portraits and voices alongside powerful facts about school nutrition. I spoke to BCPS’ Anne Rosenthal and BMI’s Beth Maloney about this partnership and what museums can learn from it. Show Notes/Transcript: wethemuseum.com
Whitney Plantation is the only former plantation site in Louisiana with an exclusive focus on slavery. In this episode, their Director of Education, Amber Mitchell, shares how two audio projects are helping educate even more people about the history and legacy of slavery. In 2021, they launched their first audio tour, a cutting-edge production that lets even more people visit the site. They also produced a limited series podcast called Tilling the Soil that Amber describes as a love letter to Black public history. Show Notes & Transcript: wethemuseum.com
Jared Jones still has trouble wrapping his head around the fact that the TikTok account he started at Sacramento History Museum has become possibly the most followed museum account on the entire platform, with over 2.4 million followers. In this episode, Jared shares with me the museum’s TikTok journey, how docent Howard became a minor celebrity, and what real-life impacts this engagement has had on the museum. Transcript & Show Notes: WeTheMuseum.com
To paraphrase Adam Rizzo: museums won’t do the right thing by their workers just because we ask nicely. In a field rife with labor issues, museum workers are increasingly turning to unions. In this episode, Adam Rizzo of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Union shares their multi-year journey from hushed initial conversations to a three-week strike that was ultimately successful. He walked me through the unionization process and reflected on why unions will make this field stronger. This episode was sponsored by Landslide Creative. Transcript & show notes: wethemuseum.com
From day one, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has made it a priority to support Black history organizations and family historians around the country, not just in D.C. In this episode, I’m joined by Dr. Doretha Williams, who leads the museum’s Smith Center. I wanted to hear more about their community curation and digitization programs, where they travel to cities around the country and offer no-strings-attached digitization and research support to institutions and individuals. Hear about the community-building that goes into every visit and find out what other museums and history organizations can learn from the NMAAHC’s approach. For show notes/transcript, visit wethemuseum.com
Trailer: We the Museum

Trailer: We the Museum

2023-01-2002:30

Welcome to We the Museum, a new podcast for museum workers who want to form a more perfect institution. Here's a teaser for the first four episodes. In this trailer, you're hearing the voice of Dr. Doretha Williams (Center Director, The Center for the Digitization and Curation of African American History at the National Museum of African American History and Culture); Adam Rizzo (President, Local 397, Philadelphia Museum of Art Union); Jared Jones (Digital Content Coordinator, Sacramento History Museum), and Amber Mitchell, Director of Education, Whitney Plantation. Show notes and transcripts will be available for all full episodes. We the Museum is sponsored by Landslide Creative. 
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