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The Complexities of Blackness in the Museum

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posted on 01.08.2020, 00:00 by Alimot S Yusuff
At the turn of the century, the discussion and prioritization of Blackness in art museums in the United States saw a noticeable shift. Black art and artists are becoming revered for their ingenuity and contribution to shifting the cannon on visual cultural production. Museums find themselves at the crux of participation, driven to collect and display Blackness in their institutions; however, the perception of Blackness struggles to change in the social imaginary. What does it mean to see Blackness radically? This thesis seeks to explore the art museum's relationship with Blackness, looking closely at the history of the exclusionary practice, as it coincides with the history of the United States. Interrogating how institutions built on histories of otherness, exclusion, and exploitation can become a space where Blackness can exist. Exploring the meaning of Blackness, its socialized implications, and its re-theorization in the social imaginary and consequentially the museum. Additionally, looking at the foreseeable impact counter storytelling can have in the exposing of intersections and the radical visibility of Blackness.



Mensah, Lucy


Mensah, Lucy


Art and Art History

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level


Degree name

MA, Master of Arts

Committee Member

Blair, Cynthia Anderson, Sheridan Tucker

Submitted date

August 2020

Thesis type




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