Museums are institutions of power and authority, enabling them to wield influence and speak credibly about a wide variety of issues on the local and national stage. But that authority can also be a double-edged sword, standing between museums and the communities they hope to engage and making it difficult to forge authentic relationships and leverage the museum’s power toward social progress. In this session, four museums will share stories of grappling with their own power and authority: using strategies like collaboration, co-design, research, and partnership to learn about communities and begin to equalize power dynamics and democratize their authority, as well as changing the organizational culture to make those strategies successful.


  • Sarah Lee


  • Lisa Sasaki
  • Jane Burrell
  • Andrea Giron
  • Caroline Goeser