Cassandra Kist

Areas of Research

Work Package 1 “Connectivities Built by Institutions”
PhD Project 3



Crafting museum social media for social inclusion work


Understanding how museums can contribute to the diverse needs of marginalised individuals through the social web is and will continue to be paramount, especially in our COVID-stricken world. Museum literature often espouses the potential of social media for social goals due to its ability to reach wider audiences and increase opportunities for participation and engagement that could benefit museum users. However, current research and practices tend to overlook a critical attention to the relationship between museum social media practices and the institution’s social inclusion role. For instance, common trends in museum literature suggest that museums over-market and broadcast rather than truly trying to engage their users online. Thus, this thesis attempts to provide insight into the intersections and disconnections between museum social inclusion work and social media use to inform practice in the field.

It asks one overarching question: (1) How can social media support the museum’s socially inclusive role to potentially challenge social exclusion and associated inequalities? This is underpinned by two additional questions: (2) How do structures (institutional and social platforms) shape how staff carry out social inclusion work through social media? (3) Which work processes enable staff to pursue social inclusion through social media? By employing a methodology that includes practice research and additional qualitative methods such as participant-observation, the study has investigated these questions by paying close attention to the everyday practices of staff in museums working at the forefront of social inclusion.

The PhD research from 2018-2021 is mainly based on one case study – the Open Museum, which belongs under the larger umbrella organisation of Glasgow Museums. The Open Museum has been heralded as leading social inclusion work and as such, served as a highly relevant case for investigating the research questions. Within the case study, close attention was paid to staff practices to investigate the processes and conditions that enable (dis)connections between social media and social inclusion work. The findings from the analysis of the main case study are contextualised with an additional series of seven interviews with social media professionals in Scotland and three diverse case examples: A museum of migration (Canada), the Myseum (Canada), and the National Museum of the American Indian (US). Through synthesising the findings from both the case study and case examples, key aspects of museum infrastructures that hinder and enable social media use for social inclusion work are identified. This includes, on the one hand, social and organisational structures, such as the distribution of responsibilities, the norms, and habitual practices of social inclusion work and on the other hand, technical structures in the form of social media limits and affordances. In turn, the thesis identifies three main processes that staff use to negotiate these structures of both museum and social media platforms, including ‘translation’, ‘repair’, and ‘tinkering’. These processes point to the skilled and contingent nature of museums’ social media practices for social inclusion initiatives as a form of craftwork and the need for organisational support in order for these socio-technical processes to fulfil their potential.



Academic Qualifications

Master of Museum Studies, University of Toronto, Canada

Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, University of Alberta, Canada


Work Experience

Summer 2018
Visitor Services Interpreter, Fort Edmonton Park (living history museum), Edmonton, AB., Canada

Herbarium Technical Assistant, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto ON., Canada

Summer 2017
Internship as the Orientation and Administration Leader in the Academic Resource Centre in the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.

Summer 2016
Internship as an Assistant Registrar at the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C.

Research Interests

  • Digital Storytelling
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Museum Visitor Research


Kist, C. (2020). Museums, Challenging Heritage and Social Media During COVID-19. Museum and Society 18 (3), pp. 345–348.

Kist, C./ Mucha, F. (2020, in publication). Digitally enabled participation in exhibitions: empowering social platforms. In: Exponat – Raum – Interaktion. Perspektiven für das Kuratieren digitaler Ausstellungen. Göttingen, Vandenhoek & Ruprecht.

England, A., Kist, C., Svenningson, J. “Mulugeta Abai.” Toronto Ward Museum, Nov. 10, 2018,

Kist, C. “Hospitality, a Word and a Way.” Toronto Ward Museum, Nov. 13, 2017,

Recent Conferences and Workshop Presentations

Kist, C./ Boersma, S./ Tran, Q.-T./Zwart, I.: “Infrastructures and future possibilities for the participation” at the digital 5th Biennial Conference “ACHS 2020 FUTURES” of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS), 26-30. Aug. 2020.

Kist, C.: “Are museums post-digital?” at “Postdigital Day”, University of Glasgow, 26. April 2019.

Kist, C.: Opening Conference POEM (Horizon 2020), Hamburg, 13-14. Dec. 2018.

Kist, C. (2018). “Telling the stories of city waste through social media”. University of Toronto Graduate studies poster session, ‘Public Programming and Education’, Toronto, ON., April 4, 2018.

Kist, C. (2016). “Interrogating Tasty Made Recipes and their association with identity on social media”.  University of Toronto, graduate studies poster session, ‘Curating Science’, Toronto, ON., Dec. 5, 2016.


Winter term 2019/20
Workshop on Museums and Social Media in the Heritage and Cultural Informatics course by Prof Dr Maria Economou in the Department of Information Studies at the University of Glasgow (19/02/2020).

Summer term 2019
Guest Lecture on Ethics and Digital Media research for the Digital Archeology course by Gareth Beale in the Archeology Department at the University of Glasgow (08/03/2019).


If you want to make sure you are up to date with POEM, please sign up to our newsletter. We will keep you informed on a regular basis via email of news from the European Training Network POEM, its partners, and projects.

Please be aware of the terms & conditions concerning data protection.


Coordination and Project Management

University of Hamburg
c/o: Institute for Anthropological Studies in Culture and History
Grindelallee 46 | postbox: H8 | 20146 Hamburg | Germany

+49 (0)40 42838-9940 
POEM Uni Hamburg

Concepts, strategies and media infrastructures for envisioning socially inclusive potential futures of European Societies through culture.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 764859.