The social role of museums: the contribution of the three Museums of Fine Arts of Thessaloniki (MOMus) to the inclusion of refugees

Katerina Arampatzi
Niki Nikonanou


The aim of the present thesis was to investigate the contribution of museums in the inclusion of refugees and migrants as a result of the social role of the former. It is quite crucial for the museums to abolish past practices, such as the exclusion of culturally diverse groups, by establishing a new approach through intercultural dialogue: art and culture. Migrants and refugees being treated as equals by museums seems to be quite high on the agenda of modern museology. Taking into account the abovementioned observations as well as a series of existing good practices for refugees’ inclusion that were put into practice at national and European level, the present study focused on the work of the three Museums of Visual Arts of Thessaloniki (Metropolitan Organization of Museums, MOMus). Specifically, the activities of the museums have been explored since 2015,regarding their social role and the inclusion of refugees and migrants in the museums’ policy for communication, education and exhibition in general. In that context, semi-structured interviews (SSIs) were conducted with the responsible persons for Educational Programs of MOMus in order to document their views and experience.  The resulting data indicate that MOMus face a variety of challenges being responsible for themuseums’ limited activity. Particularly, MOMus-Museum of Modern Art exhibited less activity compared to the other museums. Understaffing of MOMus demands for immediate actions, such as hiring knowledgeable staff, whereas underfunding and lack of co-ordination between the partner organizations are some of the problems that need to be critically addressed. Nevertheless, MOMusmanage to incorporate various good practices in their action plans, including utilization of art and culture, intercultural dialogue and establishment of a safe environment that encourages expression and creativity; that way the approach of culturally diverse groups and their participation in museums’ activities are ensured.

Key-words: Museums, Social Role, Inclusion, Refugees/Migrants, MOMus, Intercultural Dialogue, Social Exclusion.