Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2023

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Louise Arizzoli

Second Advisor

Kariann Fuqua

Third Advisor

Patrick Lewis

Relational Format



In 2022, the collections of the former Museo Coloniale, Colonial Museum, were reopened to the public as a part of the Museo delle Civiltà in Rome. This reopening, viewed by many as an exhumation of fascist dictator Mussolini’s former collection, in the neighborhood he built for the World Fair, reinvigorated the debate surrounding museum decolonization and brought Italy into the spotlight for this topic. This thesis seeks to explore the conversation surrounding the topic of Italian museum decolonization, using the Museo Coloniale’s collection as the primary example of a colonial museum in a post colonial world. Through this, it asks the question of where and in what ways can Italian museums decolonize their collections? Using a qualitative approach, this research seeks to understand both the history of colonialism in Italy and the advent of the Italian museum system, follows the Museo Coloniale’s collections from their original display to the current display, and incorporates modern issues with museum decolonization. Evaluating each of these topics using the European Commission’s six aims for museum decolonization, this research is an attempt to answer the question at hand. Findings show that in order for Italian museums to properly decolonize, it is necessary they confront the colonial mindset present in the country, diversify their staff makeup, and improve transparency within the Italian museum system.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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