The creation of art museums in the 19th century served to encapsulate Western culture, perspectives, and priorities. These institutions, originally conceived for enlightenment and the perpetuation of white cultural rituals, have since become focal points for examination within the field of sociology. This thesis aims to compare two small art museums serving different populations, investigating their efforts to decolonize museums and their effectiveness in reaching underrepresented visitor groups. Through in-depth interviews with museum educators and curators, as well as ethnographic observations of programming, data was collected to analyze their decolonization initiatives. The findings reveal that the Wellin and Munson museums are at different stages of decolonization, reflecting their structural and historical differences and the unique challenges they face. This comparison underscores broader issues of race, social class, and education within our society, highlighting the evolving role of museums in confronting their Euro-American histories and narratives.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Stephen Ellingson

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.