Danny Birchall, Issue 117/03, p14, 01.03.2017
Museums hold the trump card
The effect of Donald Trump’s unpredictable – often racist and sexist – behaviour on the arts in the US is already being seen.

There have been threats to national funding programmes, and to the freedom of movement of artists from parts of the Middle East. The Museum of Modern Art in New York has responded to the new president’s travel ban by prominently hanging works by artists from the affected countries.

Responding to Trump’s government is a digital issue as much as an international one: online, particularly on social media, geographical distinctions are at their flimsiest, and the reach of museums can be at its greatest.

Tweets supporting social justice can be powerful wherever in the world they come from, and particularly from museums dealing with histories of migrant cultures.

Social media also offers us the chance to tackle issues ourselves. The UK museums community’s regularly scheduled twitter chat #museumhour recently binned its scheduled topic to discuss the implications of Trump’s policies and possible ways in which to respond. It wasn’t always an easy conversation. But it begged the question: if museums don’t stand against Trump, what do we stand for?

Danny Birchall is the digital manager at the Wellcome Collection, London