Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

MA Museum Professions


Communication and the Arts


Gregory Stevens, MAT

Committee Member

Renee Robinson, PhD

Committee Member

Ruth Tsuria, PhD

Committee Member

McKenna Schray, PhD


propaganda, persuasion, public trust, museum communication, public engagement, audience interpretation, audience meaning-making, case study


According to the Edelman Trust Barometer (2021), public trust in information sources has drastically decreased in America, except for museums. Since museums have historically spread propaganda through their communications, this multisite case study analysis of three American museums, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Creation Museum, investigated how museum propaganda impacts public trust. After examining Twitter posts and responses to the three cases, findings showed that even when museums did not intentionally spread propaganda, audience interpretations still led to a fracturing of trust. Recommendations for the field were developed from this conclusion, emphasizing the need for museums to have propaganda awareness, maintain authenticity, take action, and practice accountability.