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University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology

June 2017 $195,000 / 36 months

Like many museums, a majority of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s (Museum) staff and volunteer docents are significantly less diverse than the communities whose cultural heritage they steward. Global Guides: Immigrant Stories Tour Program (Global Guides) will pilot a new model for recruiting and training immigrants and refugees to give guided interpretation of galleries that showcase collections from their country of origin. The Global Guides program requires the Museum to let go of some authority over how its objects are interpreted to make space for the guides to share their personal experiences, a significant paradigm shift in the field. This program has the potential to catalyze change in the arts and culture field by demonstrating success in introducing new interpretations as well as the roles immigrants and refugees can fill at museums. The Museum hopes that in addition to informing the national and international conversation about how to interpret holdings, that they are able to impact the lack of staff diversity at museums, especially in roles that interact with the public.

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