Museums focusing solely on homelessness
Exhibitions featuring homeless individuals’ items
Programs specifically for homeless individuals
I have to ask, is it really such a good idea?
This all sounds good; there would be more awareness of the challenges individuals who endure homelessness face and awareness of the problem.
Background: Over the last several months, I have been interacting closely with individuals who are currently or have recently experienced homelessness at a local street newspaper. Part of this interaction entailed the challenge of building a museum program for this group of people.
Straight up: I don’t think that individuals who are currently or have recently experienced homelessness should be considered a singular audience or the focus of an exhibition.
Exception: In the event that an organization serving individuals experiencing homelessness or individuals experiencing homelessness themselves request a program, it would be acceptable to differentiate this audience.
These folks are people just like the rest of the population. While they may be “homeless”, that may not be the main way they identify themselves or want to be identified by society. Each of these people have a variety of skills sets, personal life needs, and concerns.
I would also ask people to consider what good is an exhibition featuring homelessness actually going to do. How is it going to affect change? Simply “raising awareness” is not going to change the root cause of why people are homeless and why it is such a difficult situation to overcome. Additionally, how would the homeless population benefit from such an exhibition? Would the museum be willing to donate a portion of the revenue to their local effort to fight homelessness? The other issue to be raised is that money is not the only thing needed to end homelessness. Laws, attitudes, and people have to change. In the DC area, many of the people currently experiencing homelessness is a direct result of racism towards their parents and grandparents that prevented them from obtaining housing in safe neighborhoods they could afford.
Another perspective: These are all my thoughts. I asked a gentleman named Ken who I’ve been interacting with over the last several months what he thinks:
On the Museum of Homelessness: Good if it helps the cause. Will they be housing people?
What needs to change in museums for individuals experiencing homelessness to enjoy them?
Museum culture. Museum staff must be friendlier and more welcoming to individuals that they perceive to currently experience or have recently experienced homelessness. If they don’t do this, they further alienate an audience that has just as much right to be there as any other person. (paraphrased)
Here’s what I’ve been looking at:
In the UK: Museum of Homelessness I reached out to them recently and look forward to their response to my questions on how they will serve their community.
Colorado: Project for the Present Searching for Home It seems that this exhibition is on hold for the time being. This is raises the question about the appropriateness of using the objects in an exhibition. How much benefit will the individuals from whom the objects came experience versus the of those at History Colorado?
Incluseum: Engaging With Homeless Adults This covers the benefit of long-term relationships, art as therapy, and recommendations for program preparation and engagement. This is helpful for programs that work with organizations who have reached out to a museum for programming. Many of these steps listed in the article are already things that an educator planning for an audience would take into consideration. What makes this audience different?