Home Museum institution Mass. is rich in small local museums. Let’s support them.

Mass. is rich in small local museums. Let’s support them.


Museums are essential to our democracy. In a polarized world, they push us to question our assumptions and embrace the complexities. It’s heartwarming to read the recent article about curators, and I look forward to learning from them (“Museums in the spotlight” Sunday Arts, October 16). These perspectives are critical to meeting our challenges, especially in a field long dominated by white conservatives, white donors, and white audiences. The old approach will not attract new audiences or inspire justice.

Yet the Globe’s focus on four elite museums with total annual budgets exceeding $200 million sells the diversity and value of museums over the top. The Commonwealth is rich in small community museums that do exciting work. Many are banking their survival on stories that have historically been ignored and underfunded. They do so without the safety net of towering endowments or the attention of major newspapers.

Visitors seeking more inclusive representations of our history and culture could frequent local institutions that need our support. The National Black Doll Museum in Mansfield exhibit at Wheaton College features the nation’s largest collection devoted to the art and preservation of black dolls. Wistariahurst to Holyoke is currently exhibiting the work of Anthony Melting Tallow, Bo’taan’niis, (Flying Chief), a member of the Blackfoot Nation of Alberta, Canada. This month, the Hull Rescue Museum hosts a Smithsonian exhibit on the changes facing rural America. These are just a few places where new visions are taking shape on shoestring budgets.

There are important conversations to be had about the future of museums. More and more people are entering their local institutions and seeing themselves reflected in the exhibits, thanks to talented curators. Placed alongside their colleagues in more prestigious museums, these professionals might even spark new ideas about how we live together. This is, after all, a key role of any museum.

Brian Boyle

Executive Director

mass humanities