Ok, so diversity is good. I think we all know that we need to create spaces that are welcoming to all different types of people. But let’s push it a little further. It’s great to see people of varying colors in one building, but how do we get the colors to swirl?
For my Introduction to Museums assignment, I conducted an interview with Megan Dickerson from the Boston Children’s Museum. Megan is the Manager of Community Programs and Partnerships at the Museum, and among many things, one important aspect of her job is to encourage children and families to go beyond parallel play.
Parallel play is a recurring phenomenon that children’s museums must work to combat. It is a form of play where children play amongst, but not with, each other. And as a result, they do not influence the behaviors of one another, and the experience is ultimately not as fulfilling. As I’m sure you all have guessed, parallel play does not only affect children in the sand box. At the Boston Children’s Museum, Megan has noticed that while children and families of nonwhite races are coming to the Museum, there is little interaction between these young people and there white counterparts. Should we care?
In The Real Multiculturalism: A Struggle for Authority and Power, Amalia Mesa-Bains writes about the growing multiculturalism within the United States, and how museums must be representative of the country’s growing population of color. But is it ok if all we, as museum professionals, worry about is fulfilling “minority” quotas? Does our job stop once a Latino walks through the door? I, personally, don’t think that’s good enough. As museum professionals, we need to promote transcultural encounters, and the reality of the multiculturalism that exists within our current society.