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Museums Today: The Civic Mission of Museums

Civic building illustration


In 2017, the United States was demoted to a "flawed democracy" by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Today, the U.S. is more strained than it has been in more than a century—thanks to a global pandemic, increasingly toxic politics, a national reckoning with racial injustice, and loss of faith in American institutions. Museums, one of the few remaining trusted institutions, have a critical role to play in rebuilding our country. How can museums help build civic knowledge, mindsets and skillsets that help our audiences become engaged and informed citizens? How can we support them in taking meaningful civic action?

This talk will explore examples of museum work focused on citizen-building. Participants will leave with a toolkit that they can use to "produce a public benefit" in their own communities.

About Anthony Pennay

Anthony (Tony) Pennay is the author of The Civic Mission of Museums (2020). A former middle school teacher, Pennay shifted to museum education in 2010, broadly focusing on cultivating the next generation of citizen-leaders. Each year he works with his team to serve more than 70,000 students through a range of programs, field trips, scholarships, competitions and more. Previously, he has served as chair of the American Alliance of Museum’s EdCom Professional Network and on the California K-12 Civic Learning Task Force. He was also awarded the Civic Action Award by the California Council for the Social Studies.

How to Participate

To participate, register online, and we will email you a link and instructions for joining the program on Zoom. Simply follow that link at the time the event starts  (6 p.m. EST). When you register, you can also request to receive a reminder email one day before the program with the link included. 

About the Museums Today Series

Each month during the academic year, museum leaders lead lively online discussions about critical issues in the field. This series is presented in partnership with the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries. Browse upcoming programs