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Local Museums, Global Publics
Date Permissions Signed
Date of Award
Department or Program Affiliation
Master of Arts (MA)
Young, Kathleen Z.
In the peri-pandemic ‘new normal,’ museums occupy physical and online spaces. Many museums responded to the COVID pandemic by moving much of their programing to online modalities. One consequence of the dramatic increase in online programing compelled by COVID-19 is that previously location-based museum programs are suddenly more accessible to global publics: worldwide populations of cultural heritage stakeholders, defined more by common interest than by geographic location. I hypothesize that increased interaction with global publics during the pandemic has inspired an expansion of museums’ concept of Publics (or key audiences) to include a broader Global Public in addition to their traditional local stakeholders. After the pandemic, moreover, museums will maintain many of the online programs they started in 2020 with the intent to continue engaging Global Publics as part of their patronage. Drawing from a survey of 56 North American Museums and seven ethnographic interviews, representing 18 US States and three Canadian Provinces, this study seeks to contribute to the discourse around the role of museums as cultural heritage institutions amid and following the COVID-19 pandemic. As museums continue to adapt to additional, unprecedented challenges, continual re-evaluation of how the field defines publics will help cultural institutions adapt to fulfill their mandates in an ever-more globalized world.
Museum publics, globalisation, digital museology, public programming, critical museology, digitization, globalization, audience segmentation, digital communities
Western Washington University
Subject – LCSH
Virtual museums; Museums--Public relations; Human-computer interaction; Computer interfaces
Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.
Duffy, Madeline R., "Local Museums, Global Publics: how online programing during COVID-19 impacted the way museums define their audiences" (2021). WWU Graduate School Collection. 1070.