Museology Master of Arts Program

April 6, 2021

Understanding Feelings of Inclusion and Exclusion for Black and Brown Students in Museums

Research Thesis by Addey Kifle

Museums have been making efforts to make their practices more inclusive. Research suggests that despite these efforts Black and Brown visitors experience a sense of alienation when visiting museums. The purpose of this research study was to better understand how and when students of color feel inclusion and exclusion during a field trip at a museum. 15 students participated in two focus groups held in two different cities. Results suggest that students experienced inclusion when they were met with kindness from staff and other visitors, there was content that aligned with their interests, and if they viewed the museum as a quiet, self-reflective space. Results also suggest that students experienced exclusion when they felt out of place amongst other visitors, content did not reflect them or their interests, they experienced discrimination due to the intersection of their race and age, they had unpleasant interactions with staff members, and when they observed a lack of diversity in staff members. These findings suggest that the inclusion efforts a museum does or does not take are noticed by Black and Brown students and can impact how comfortable or not they feel when in the space. This can inform actionable steps that cultural institutions can take to make their practices more equitable.


Kifle, A. L. (2020). Understanding feelings of inclusion and exclusion for black and brown students in museums (Order No. 28001697). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (2438775086). Retrieved from


Black, Brown, Inclusion, Field trip, Museum, Racial equity, Students