What About Us? Inclusivity, Community, and the Future of Sustainability in African-American Museums
This paper is intended as a contribution to a contemporary analysis of African-American museums as sustainable institutions of black cultural capital. Its purpose is to answer the central question: “How are African American museums achieving sustainability as cultural entities today and for future generations?” While operating in a white-European-infused arts sector, African-American institutions have had to navigate the museum field quite laboriously in order to keep their doors open and lights on. Built from the desire to connect with their estranged and displaced history, I argue that these institutions of black cultural capital are key producers of social capital that contribute greatly to the health of African-American communities, arts and cultural economies, and the well-being of each American. Due to the lack of federal and private funding awarded to them, African-American museums maintain sustainability through several foundational aspects, which are ingrained in their institutions. This thesis substantiates the social significance of these institutions through qualitative interviews and compact case studies to uncover new tools and resources for museum management professionals to implement. Finally, it supports the claim that African-American museums are integral and active producers of social capital for the country and can be sustainable for these reasons.