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Janes, Robert R. "Museums, Social Responsibility and the Future We Desire." In Museum Revolutions: How Museums Change and are Changed, edited by Simon J. Knell, Suzanne Macleod, and Sheila E. R. Watson, 135-46. New York, Routledge, 2007.


This article examines museums’ social involvement while contemporary worldview is based on the belief that economic growth is essential for our well-being, and consumption is the means to achieve it. Faced with instability from declining numbers, and finding the balance between earned revenue and funding, various museums are starting to look past the business model where they are being treated as corporate entities. These museums are holding themselves accountable for providing meaning and societal awareness. Janes argues against Western society’s conception that markets create communities; instead, it is not-for-profit organizations that create the relationships from which communities are based. Therefore all museums, science centres and art galleries have a role to play in assuming societal leadership; together they must become more effective in taking up societal responsibility. This article first illustrates the decline of life-meaning in humans and the rise in economic significance. It next discusses instabilities felt by museums that follow the business method and various museums’ progression to becoming socially responsible institutions. The chapter concludes with a rationale for museums to be socially responsible, and provides characteristics and requirements to implement socially responsible work.

Kelsey Wood-Hrynkiw