Finding a Voice: Assessment of Thesis Research

Lee Hood

It’s interesting to see how my thesis topic has changed since the end of last year. While my research topic surrounded around museums of “ideas,” my initial idea was to focus on the development aspect of these types of museums. My research also focused on how I could create an app for these types of museums. My professors, classmates, and I ultimately vetoed that idea. This summer I read, Museum of Ideas: Commitment and Conflict that gave me the idea to focus on the content design and interpretation of exhibitions in museums that strive to create social change with their visitors and in their communities. I’m incredibly happy with the end result, as it is something that I’m passionate about and would like to explore in my own career. Museums of all sizes can create a successful exhibition that tells their story in a variety of ways. As museums are not the only key in creating positive social change in our communities, they can act as an invaluable tool that can allow visitors to participate in dialogue with one another. Some are subjective as they use their content to tell a community’s story that was not heard, acting almost as a living tribute and memorial. Others strive to tell everyone’s story so visitors can connect and learn together. Each museum is unique. To gauge what is the correct way to interpret the content of your exhibition, one must look at their community, their resources, and the story they are trying to tell. 

My greatest challenge in the entire process was to find my voice in my thesis. While I could cite research, my own feelings and opinions were hidden. After my defense, I felt comfortable enough to share my thoughts and feelings, both as a museum professional, a researcher, and a regular visitor to museums. Another hurdle, or disappointment, was that I was unable to establish a successful contact with one of my case studies. While I left the case study in my thesis, it was not as strong as my other two. It was disappointing as I really enjoyed reading about the museum and wanted to learn more about their ideas and content. 

Museums need to be constantly changing and growing as communities and issues are also changing.

While each museum must find their own voice and the correct way to interpret their ideas and stories, this thesis and specific case studies can be used to offer ideas and inspiration to the museum world.