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A Museum in Context: Understanding the Practice of Independent Pop-Up Museums

Thesis by Megumi Nagata (2017)

Various institutions in the museum field have embraced the concept of “pop-up museum” as a way to reach new audiences and to experiment with new ideas for their institution. There are, at the same time, other pop-up museums emerging both independently and out of grassroots efforts not associated with established museums. It is suggested that pop-up museums have potential to push the museum field towards innovation (Giordano 2013). This descriptive study examined the practices of independent pop-up museums. Data was collected using site observation and interviews with the organizers of four pop-up or mobile-style museums across the Unites States. The findings suggest that these pop-up museums represent an emerging form of museum making, one that is grounded in representing and connecting with underrepresented or underserved communities. Moreover, the practices of pop-up museums advance unique visions of what a museum can be and do for communities and society as a whole. The study also calls for a platform in which these organizers and their museums are included in the conversations with museum professionals as equal colleagues.

Keywords: Class of 2017, museum, museology, museum studies, research, pop-up museums, community representation, inclusion


Nagata, M., & Morrissey, Kristine. (2017). A museum in context : Understanding the practices of independent pop-up museums. [University of Washington Libraries].