Document Type

Research Paper

Publication Date

Fall 2020


The attendance of art museums has often been exclusionary to nonwhite individuals. As a space revered for the “high class” or “educated”, there is a direct correlation with art museum attendance being dominated by white, middle class, college graduates. Being a current student pursuing higher education at Santa Clara University (SCU) and in an academic environment that has pushed for arts participation, the research would suggest this is the perfect environment for students to develop museum going habits. Based on interviews with three current SCU students and utilizing an auto-ethnographic approach, this research paper looks at the barriers that push BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) SCU students from attending art museums. In conducting interviews with BIPOC SCU students, themes that encompass exclusion, erasure, and discomfort are deeply institutionalized methods in museum and art history’s curriculum that act as obstacles to the diversification of the space. Although these spaces were not created with the intention of including these demographics, it is key for art museums to begin to recognize this history and have their attendance be more diverse as the national demographics are headed towards a nonwhite majority.


2021 Winner



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