The Empathetic Museum represents the collective work of museum professionals dedicated to a more inclusive future for the museum industry. We value and advocate for diversity of thought and authentic integration of empathy in museum practice.
Our collaboration grew out of a series of informal conversations and an AAM Unconference Session in 2014. How could we, as an industry, approach the need for greater equality and representation using empathy as our lens?
Are you ready to embrace empathetic practice?
We'd love to hear from you.
Who We Are
We are educators, exhibit designers, interpretive planners, and administrators—advocates and allies—committed to institutional change and open dialog about the challenges facing museums.
Museum Consultant and author of Museum Commons
Gretchen Jennings is a museum educator, administrator, and exhibition project director who worked at the Smithsonian for almost 15 years. She was a project director for traveling exhibitions Invention at Play and Psychology, both of which received AAM awards of excellence. She served as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Museum Education from 1996-1999. Since leaving the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History in 2007 she has served in a variety of consulting roles. From 2007 to 2014 she was Editor of Exhibitionist, the journal of the National Association for Museum Exhibition (NAME). With an MA in History, specializing in European and African history, she has had a lifelong interest in cross cultural understanding and communication. Since 2009 she has traveled to India every other year to teach museum professionals in Kolkata (Calcutta) under the auspices of the National Council of Science Museums. She has written and presented widely on institutional empathy as a prerequisite for diversity and inclusion. Her articles and reviews have appeared in Exhibition, Curator, ASTC Dimensions, Museums and Social Issues and History News. She currently blogs at Museum Commons - www.museumcommons.com and is a member of the Museums & Race and MASSAction initiatives.
Non-profit & community leader, advocate and organizer
Janeen Bryant, the founder of Facilitate Movement, is a community engagement
specialist and catalyst for building organizational capacity. Formerly Vice President
of Education at the Levine Museum of the New South. Her work focuses on the power
of interpersonal communication, the impact of shifting demographics on visitor interactions and experiential learning activities to make social change history relevant and accessible to any learner. She is active in multiple industry-wide initiatives including Museums &
Race and MASSAction.
Learning Strategist for exhibitions, programs, & partnerships
An accomplished experience designer and learning scientist, Stacey Mann specializes
in interpretive planning, content development, and digital strategy for museums and informal learning environments. She collaborates with educators, curators, designers, technologists, and diverse community stakeholders to design cohesive interpretive strategies that maximize learning potential and
amplify the impact of museums and cultural institutions both onsite and online. Her award-winning work in exhibition, program, resource, digital, and pedagogical design targets history, science, civics, arts and culture, media literacy, social justice, and human
rights. She is also a Senior Lecturer in Digital Interpretation at University of the Arts. As the founding director of strategic initiatives
for UNSILENCE, Stacey directs content development, learning experience design, and strategic planning for this human rights education non-profit based in Chicago, IL. Through her active involvement with industry-wide initiatives including The Empathetic Museum and Museums & Race, she advocates for diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in museum practice.
Consultant in HR management, facilitation & strategic planning for non-profits
A Chartered Professional in Human Resources (Canada), Jim Cullen’s career spans three decades in human resources and general management in the corporate and non-profit sectors. He has consulted in strategic and business planning with a specialty in museums
and non-profits, workshop facilitation and human resources management since 2003 and
has led many strategic and business plans with non-profit and heritage organizations. A long-time volunteer and member of several non-profit boards, Jim holds an Honours Business degree with distinction (University of Western Ontario), a Master’s Degree in Museum Studies (University of Leicester) and completed the Getty’s Museum Management Institute program.
Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell, is a Washington, D.C. native and an award-winning cultural programmer with over 10 years of GLAM experience [Galleries, Libraries, Archives,
Museums], devoted to exploring ways to engage with marginalized audiences through arts
ed in museums. In her new role as Education Specialist with the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture, she curates participatory public programs focusing on social justice issues, which empower museum audiences to share their own ideas towards equity. Before coming to NMAAHC, she contributed to the launch of the Women, Arts, and Social Change initiative at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, as the public programs coordinator. There she advanced feminism advocacy and brokered diverse and creative collaborations between the museum and local activist and arts leaders. Before that she served as an adjunct professor with P.G. Community College teaching portfolio art for graduating seniors. As a curator, she has produced several contemporary art exhibitions exploring race, gender, politics, and social issues. She is a frequent juror of national and international art exhibitions and initiatives. She has served in the leadership of the DC Chapter of ArtTable, Inc. since 2014, and currently serves as Chapter Co-Chair. Her writing has been featured with Americans for the Arts, the American Alliance of Museums, Examiner, CBS, and Brightest Young Things, among others. She earned her bachelor of arts in art history from the University of Maryland, College Park and her master of arts in museum studies from the George Washington University.
Charlette Hove is currently working as an Exhibition Designer and is focused on integrating social and empathetic practice into all aspects of development and design.
She has a BFA in Fine Arts: Multi-disciplinary as well as an MFA in Museum Exhibition Planning & Design from the University of the Arts, where she concentrated her graduate thesis on accessibility and inclusionary methods for collections-based museums. Charlette is passionate about human rights, social justice, accessibility and design strategies for visitors with learning disabilities.
We owe thanks and gratitude to our colleagues who have contributed to the discussion and development of the Empathetic Museum framework, in particular Rainey Tisdale (@raineytisdale) and Elissa Frankle (@museum365).