US - Russia Participatory Museum Exchange

A project of CEC ArtsLink and the US Embassy in Moscow

The Participatory Museum project supports the development of community engaged programs in Russian museums through direct exchange between US and Russian museum professionals.

Participatory museum practices handbook | Partners | Project Implementation |
US Participants | Russian Participants

Museums in Russia and the US share a common challenge – to effectively work with local communities and visitors to become more dynamic, relevant, and essential. Participatory museum practice is a critical issue for Russian museums which have little experience in this area and are eager to learn about innovations successfully integrated into traditional US museums.

By linking together our Russian and US partners, the development of participatory museum practices in both countries is enhanced and builds an international network of specialists through training seminars, residencies and panel discussions.

The Alliance of American Museums
The National Center for Contemporary Art in Nizhny Novgorod
St. Petersburg Centre for Museum Development

Project Implementation

2015 - 2016

The Participatory Museum: Facilitating and Promoting Practices builds on the dialogue and collaboration established between US and Russian museums professionals during a year-long pilot project on participatory museum practices in 2014-15. It addresses the specific needs for training and on-going information exchange identified during the pilot through a structured program of activities including: an intensive training “Camp”; three residencies by US museum specialists in Russia and two Russian museum specialists in the US; a presentation of the project results at the annual meeting of the Alliance of American Museums in May 2016.  The project will bring innovative, original ideas and models to museums across Russia and facilitate an on-going dialogue between US and Russian museum professionals.

2014 - 2015
The Participatory Museum:  Sharing Models from Nakhodka to Portland

The pilot project brought together over a hundred US and Russian museum specialists to share information and discuss how to help museums better serve the needs of the local community through a series of study visits, seminars, and a collaborative handbook. The concluding conference in St. Petersburg in May 2015, attended by more than 70 museum specialists from across Russia and three US experts drew attention to the wide range of practices in the field as well as the need for more opportunities to share information, ideas and resources.  The project highlighted as many questions and problems as it resolved and underlined the on-going need for research and training in this field. 

The project’s concluding activity was a two day seminar in St. Petersburg attended by 70 museum specialists from across Russia. At the seminar, John Haworth and Prerana Reddy, along with Barbara Schaffer Bacon, gave presentations about US practices that were very well received.  Twelve Russian museum specialists from cities across the country also shared information about the participatory museum practices used in their institutions with the audience. A handbook on US and Russian participatory museum practice was presented at the conference. The handbook was created over the course of the project and included case studies by the Russian and US participants. The handbook, which is available on-line in both English and Russian, is the first Russian publication devoted to this important topic and includes invaluable information for both Russian and US museum specialists.

Funding for the Participatory Museum program is provided by the US-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program of the US Embassy in Moscow.