Date of Award

Spring 4-25-1999

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. George Hein

Second Advisor

Dr. Sharlene Voogd Cochrane

Third Advisor

Dr. Nitza Hidalgo



This dissertation is a study of museum change and examines the power of objects along with the authority of traditional exhibitions and the development of community-connected exhibitions. Community-connected exhibitions are explored to provide insight into reshaping the museum organization into a multicultural institution.

Method: A case study of a community-connected exhibition, "Becoming Americans: The Shapiro Story: 1898-1928," was conducted at Strawberry Banke, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, an outdoor history museum. Interviews were held with 25+ project participants: museum staff project team members, Shapiro family members, community members at large, and representatives from other community cultural institutions. This qualitative research project analyzes the important issues both within the institution and the community that museums will encounter in building new diverse constituencies as they reshape their organizations.

Results: The Shapiro Project Team comprised of museum staff and community members, created an historically well-developed, innovative, collaborative interpretation for the Shapiro House. However the Shapiro Project did not affect lasting change at Strawberry Banke. It did, however, serve as an excellent case study of an institution in the process of change. The necessary steps for the transformation are analyzed: new work units and cultural awareness training for the staff; revised policies and practices for the institution along with diversity strategy; and commitment from new diverse audiences.

Conclusion: The Shapiro Project demonstrates the intersection of the three spheres in the shaping of a multicultural institution: staff reorganization, institutional commitment, and emerging community constituents. Each of these spheres is comprised of steps which must be completed in order to transform an organization. Level two change occurs when all three spheres deeply intersect creating a wide juncture. This wide overlapping demonstrates an institution that has transformed itself, by negotiating their authority and by sharing their power.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.



Number of Pages


Embargo Period





The author owns the copyright to this work.