Skip to content

If this was just a museum: employee emotional wellbeing at trauma site museums

Thesis by Dorothy Svgdik (2019)

Tragedy touches all of us, leaving trauma in its wake. This trauma alters individuals, challenging their identities and worldviews, and their communities, fundamentally and permanently. Memorials and museums often exhibit and commemorate traumatic experiences or events. Trauma site museums sit within this larger framework of museums, monuments, and memorials. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand how working in a trauma site museum impacts the emotional wellbeing of public-facing professionals. Qualitative data were collected from semi-structured interviews with 21 public-facing museum professionals who work at trauma site museums. Results showed that emotional wellbeing of museum professionals at trauma site museums is impacted in both negative and positive ways. The data also indicated that the emotional wellbeing of these professionals is impacted by their interactions with the public and demonstrated that museum professionals at trauma site museums find value in reflecting on their workplace emotional wellbeing. The results have implications for museum practice, namely in developing institutional strategies for handling the effects of negative emotions in the workplace, imploring trauma site museums prioritize self-care for their employees, and advocating for the implementation of trauma-informed practices to support employees.

Keywords: Class of 2019, emotional wellbeing, employee emotional wellbeing, museums, trauma site museums, museum studies, museology


Svgdik, D., & Luke, J. J. (2019). If this was just a museum : Employee emotional wellbeing at trauma site museums. [University of Washington Libraries].