"It's Always Ourselves We Find in the Sea" : maritime museums and education at Independence Seaport Museum
Bryn Mawr College. Department of Anthropology
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I completed the primary research for my senior thesis in anthropology at Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, PA. I examined the museum through the lens of its education department, as education is key to the museum's mission. ISM is the only museum in the city whose exhibits and programs focus on the maritime history of the region. In order to be able to focus on the quality of this programming, ISM must first contend with the many political and economic challenges particular to being a small specialty museum. One of these challenges is expanding the museum's audience to include more families and ethnic minorities. New exhibits and better publicity could help ISM to better reach these audiences and further fulfill its possibility as a museum. After all, museums are informal educational settings of enormous value that have the ability to bring together people of varying ages, genders, ethnicities, and levels of formal education in the pursuit of entertainment and learning.