Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Anthropology (Cultural Heritage Option)

Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Dr. Gregory Campbell

Commitee Members

Dr. C. Riley Augé, Dr. H. Rafael Chacón


Museums, Community Engagement, Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, Tuck Museum of Hampton History, Strawbery Banke Museum, James House Museum


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Social and Cultural Anthropology


The theme of community engagement has been a prevalent topic of debate and discussion among museum professionals across the country, and so this thesis seeks to examine how four local museums connect with their local audiences in meaningful and successful ways. I focus on local museums because they have the unique opportunity to intimately engage their immediate community’s perceptions of identity and heritage, and relate the interpreted past in innovative ways that effectively resonate with the contemporary lives of current residents.The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, Strawbery Banke Museum, The Tuck Museum of Hampton History, and the James House Museum, were selected as case studies and analyzed in an attempt to identify the varied approaches utilized by the leadership at each museum to preserve their collections and engage their community members. Having completed seven months of qualitative research that included participant-observation, semi-formal interviews, surveys, photographic documentation and document analysis, this presentation will summarize the results of this research and illuminate the complex socio-cultural, political, and economic contexts that influence community engagement tactics utilized by the leadership at each of the four museums.



© Copyright 2020 Mary L. Casey