Museum as Site for Social Action (MASS Action)

What is the role and responsibility of the museum in responding to issues affecting our communities locally and globally? How do the museum’s internal practices need to change in order to align with, and better inform, their public practice? How can the museum be used as a site for social action?

With this three-year initiative, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, in collaboration with stakeholders across the field, proposes to provide a platform for dialogues on these topics to take shape publicly and move towards an actionable practice.


MASS Action launched in October 2016 with a gathering of 50 museum practitioners for an action-oriented conversation around topics of equity inside the museum, creating relevant programming, and community engagement. Participants are working collaboratively to develop a toolkit of resources, including shared language, strategies to address inequity, and actions and exercises to build more inclusive museums practices.


October 11 – 13, 2017, a larger convening will be held to include staff teams from museums who intend to use the toolkit and are committed to embed strategies of inclusion into their institutions. The convening will feature case studies, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and other discussions of how to put theory into practice.

YEAR THREE and beyond

The following year, participating museums will act and build upon the commitments to equity and social change agreed upon at the 2017 convening, creating more inclusive practices in the museum field and in our communities.

What is Mia’s role?

The Minneapolis Institute of Art will serve as the convener and a platform for this project, creating a space for the work that is already being done in this area across the country, and investing in the field at large.  The work that results from this project will belong to the collective of participating museum practitioners and stakeholders that help to create and embody it. Mia acknowledges that it is not an exemplar of best practices around equity and inclusion, but rather, serves as an example of a museum that is committing itself to doing the work we need to do to become a more equitable and inclusive institution.

Mia staff members Karleen Gardner, Director of Learning Innovation, and Elisabeth Callihan, Head of Multi-Generational Learning, serve as co-organizers of the project in collaboration with the MASS Action Advisory Board.

MASS Action is made possible through generous support from Nancy Engh and a grant from the Gale Family Foundation.

For more information about the project and how to get involved, please visit: