Skip to content

Why inclusive language matters with Margaret Middleton

  • by

I’m talking to Margaret Middleton today about what inclusive language is and why it matters. 

Margaret Middleton is an American independent exhibit designer and museum consultant currently based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. 

With a degree in industrial design from the Rhode Island School of Design and over 15 years of experience in the museum field, they work at the intersection of design and social justice.

We know museums aim to be welcoming places for everyone, but the ways museums communicate can unintentionally exclude and alienate visitors.

Likewise, when we’re working as museum teachers, guides and educators the words we choose when we communicate can hide unconscious biases and assumptions, especially about subjects like “family.”

10 years ago, Margaret created a tool called the Family Inclusive Language chart which helps us to choose words that avoid labelling and making assumptions about the identities and relationships between museum visitors. 

We discuss:

  • the ways you might use the Family Inclusive Language chart in the museum
  • how certain words, phrases and tenses can have a positive or negative effect on a group.
  • why choosing the right words is just as important as avoiding the wrong ones.
  • how we can be more intentional about the language we use and can train ourselves to not automatically default to words that may not be inclusive.

This chat will make you more aware of the language and the words you use when you’re with visitors in the museum. And you’ll gain useful insight into how thoughtful word choices have the power to create connections and include everyone. 


Support the Show

Join the Slow Looking Club Community on Facebook

Download the NEW resource – how to look at art (slowly)

Curated newsletter by Claire Bown

Episode webpage (+ transcript) for Family Inclusive Language chart, helpful articles, and other free resources

Margaret Middleton on Twitter

Welcoming Young Children into the Museum: A Practical Guide – Sarah Erdman, Nhi Nguyen, Margaret Middleton