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"Only a decade ago, the notion that museums, galleries and cultural organisations might engage in activist practice – marshalling and directing their unique resources with explicit intent to act upon inequalities, injustices and environmental crises – was met with scepticism and often derision. Seeking to purposefully bring about social change was viewed by many within and beyond the museum community as inappropriately political and biased. Such work was thought to be antithetical to fundamental professional values. Today, although the idea remains controversial, the way we think about the roles and responsibilities of museums as knowledge-based, social institutions is changing." 

Janes, R. R. and Sandell, R. (2019), Museum Activism: Abingdon and New York, Routledge: xxvii.

As part of the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG), the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester launched the Activist Museum Award in 2019.  

This award is for an individual or group working in/with museums to support the research and development of an activist project that reflects the ideas presented by Robert Janes and Richard Sandell in their recent book, Museum Activism (2019). Museum activism refers to, ‘museum practice, shaped out of ethically-informed values, that is intended to bring about political, social and environmental change.’ 

The Activist Museum Award is the vision of Robert R. Janes in recognition of the pioneering work of Richard Sandell in the field of museums and social justice. It is intended to encourage, inspire and support similarly activist museum work throughout the UK museum community. 

The call for applications has now closed and winners have been announced. The next Activist Museum Award will be launched in 2020.

This award was made possible by a gift from Robert R. Janes.