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Empathy and Its Potential in Museum Practice

Thesis by Andrew Simeone (2016)

This research explores the museum community’s interest in empathy. While some museum professionals affirm empathy’s positive value, there are few resources that attempt to survey empathy in museum practice, let alone consider features of empathy such as its contribution to justice. This research combines a multi-disciplinary literature review with interviews with three museum professionals who discuss empathy in museum practice, the latter of which focuses on the following three categories: (1) definitions, (2) approaches and methods for eliciting empathy, and (3) outcomes of an increased focus on empathy. The findings indicate that empathy is not fully articulated by some museum professionals, that perspective-taking and personalizing exhibitions are ways to elicit empathy, and that empathy can be a tool for museum pedagogy. Moreover, considering the interest in museums as agents of social change, empathy in museum practice may find practical application in paving the way for justice.


Keywords: research, empathy; exhibits, social change


Simeone, A. (2016). Empathy and its potential in museum practices (Order No. 10138410). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1820915780). Retrieved from