Events | "Trust in Museums" – Presentation & Workshop with Sunhild Kleingärtner & Guests

Los Angeles | February 1, 2024

In 2022, the Thomas Mann House invited Fellows from various disciplines to discuss how public trust can be restored. The project "Trust in Museums“ by historian, archaeologist, and 2022 Thomas Mann Fellow Sunhild Kleingärtner focused on the role of public trust in museums: How can trust in museums be established and how is it lost? In times of polarized societies in Western democracies, what makes museums credible? Who has trust in museums and with what expectations? Together with experts and students from the U.S., Kleingärtner will discuss the findings of her transatlantic study.

Scott Miller and Sunhild Kleingärtner at the Thomas Mann House, Pacific Palisades. Photo: Andreas Nitsche.

Museums as public institutions play an important role in the presenting, conserving, and shaping of cultural narratives. In today’s politically charged times, it is not easy for museums to navigate the political discourses that are quickly and constantly changing. At the same time, due to a focus on transparent provenance, research and educational programs, museums still enjoy a great deal of public trust today according to a recent study by the American Alliance of Museums. During her Fellowship, Sunhild Kleingärtner, an archaeologist with museum-based expertise, conducted interviews with experts in the USA and Germany, exploring political issues pertinent to the question of museums as trusted institutions. Is it even possible to think of museums as inherently nonpolitical? What are key factors that foster trust in museums?

On February 1, Kleingärtner will visit Los Angeles again to present and discuss the results of her project, followed by a conversation with colleagues and students at the Thomas Mann House.

By Invitation Only.

Sunhild Kleingärtner is a German historian and archaeologist. From 2013 to 2021 she was Director of the German Maritime Museum Bremerhaven and Professor of Maritime History and Maritime Archaeology at the University of Bremen. In 2022, she was a Fellow at the Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles, working on trust in museums and how museums can actively contribute to a resilient society. Since 2022 she is the Director of the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum and holds a professorship in archaeology with a focus on museum-related transfer.



An event by the Thomas Mann House, Los Angeles.

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