Lisa Junkin Lopez is currently exploring the empowerment of women and girls as director of the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace in Savannah, but is also well-known for her former role in the leadership of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago, widely admired as a model for reimagining a historic site museum as a socially responsive organization.
An excerpt from our interview with Lisa:
For me, the sweet spot in doing this work has been finding relationships that are mutually beneficial, when people and organizations value what you have to share in terms of the history of these issues and can incorporate it into their organization, and that you find things that you value about ways they understand these issues that you can learn from. What I see when museums begin to do work around social issues is that the missteps have to do with not finding this mutual benefit. Either the museum is being used for its assets, funding, resources, or name recognition, or, more often, community groups are taken advantage of while the museums use them to claim how relevant they are or how much work they do in the community. Our best partnerships have been really beautiful because they allow us to do what we do best, which is to be a museum, to do research, to create conversations, to do public programs and exhibitions, and allow our partners to do their work as organizers, dealing with policy, drumming up the base, and changing behavior. I recommend that organizations really think about what they bring to the table and what other people bring to the table, and have a lot of conversations about where they can meet in the middle.