Watch the first LISTENERS panel

Our first LISTENERS virtual panel is now available to stream

How did museums adapt and rise to the challenges of the past year, including last summer’s reckoning with police brutality and social justice? And what new solutions and ideas will move cultural institutions towards a more inclusive future? 

To give some guidance on how cultural institutions should navigate these crucial questions, we invited leaders from the Museum of the City of New York, the Museum of Science and Industry, and LaPlaca Cohen to join us in conversation. 

Check out the recorded panel below:


This is the first event in Local Projects’ LISTENERS series, which will explore the crucial role listening plays in cultural work. So a lot of our conversation touched on who exactly museums should be listening to: from staff, to visitors old and new, to the larger communities and cultural ecosystems in which museums are situated. 

From there, we covered different strategies and takeaways for engaging those audiences. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Lead with empathy. Understand what people have been through and find ways for your institution to offer comfort and healing.
  • Break down the walls between your institution and your audience. Get out into the community and co-create priorities with them.
  • Look at digital as an opportunity to expand your community and unearth audiences. Engage first-time digital visitors and incentivize them to make an in-person visit to your institution.
  • Do what you do well, within changing contexts and challenges. 
  • Earn the high public trust most have in museums every day.
  • It’s not enough to invite visitors into your institution – you need to get out into the community and make partnerships with existing organizations to make your invitation known.
  • Institutions need to view their staff as part of their greater community, and show just as much curiosity and care towards them as they would towards visitors. 

We also wanted to share links to some of the projects our panelists referenced so you can take a more-in depth look at each.

LaPlaca Cohen 

Culture Track: Culture + Community in a Time of Transformation

A national research and strategy initiative to support the cultural sector and help strengthen communities around the U.S. during and after this COVID-19 crisis. 

Museum of the City of New York

Activist New York

Activist New York is an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York about the city’s history of activism and the people who have propelled social change from the 1600s to today. Explore this virtual version of the exhibition above.

New York Responds: The First Six Months

An online exhibition includes photographs, artworks, audio, video, and artifacts documenting New Yorkers’ response to the crisis of COVID-19 and their uprising against structural racism.

Museum of Science and Industry

Black Creativity

The Black Creativity program at MSI celebrates African-American achievement in science, technology, engineering, art and medicine.