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Friday, April 10 • 9:50am - 10:30am
PS3.0 How art museums influence who uses, and how people use neighborhood space

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Art museums have traditionally been viewed as spaces that contribute to urban spatial inequality, because they are designed for and serve the agendas of urban elites. However, many in the museum community see art museums as enriching spaces for everyone in the city, not just elites. My research looks at how one particular art museum, the Portland Art Museum in Oregon, fits into this discussion by studying how it influences who uses, and how people use the mixed-income neighborhood space in and nearby the museum. For this research, I am piloting an Instagram-based method to understand who uses and how someone uses public space in and nearby the museum. Instagram offers an objective account of how and when someone uses space, and it can also be used to estimate the socio-economic status of the person. While my research also uses interviews with people to describe their activities and socio-economic statuses, this evidence depends on the truthfulness and subjective experience of the interviewee. More specifically, my Instagram method compares publicly available, anonymous Instagram photographs taken when the museum is closed versus open and when the museum is free versus when the museum charges admission. The photographs are analyzed for content and the Instagram users’ home census tracts are geolocated and joined with 2010 US Census data using QGIS. The resultant evidence is used to test whether each condition (closed versus open, free versus not free) attracts significantly different people and/or influences significantly different activities. The findings of this research will help community members, city boosters, museum staff, and city planners create more egalitarian places in and around existing art museums by understanding how the institution attracts diverse community groups versus elite groups, local groups versus outside groups, as well as how it influences certain neighborhood activities.

avatar for Justin Meyer

Justin Meyer

PhD Candidate, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Friday April 10, 2015 9:50am - 10:30am EDT
Biscayne Ballroom (2nd floor)