“Fostering Empathy Through Museums” gets a mention in Star Tribune article


“Fostering Empathy Through Museums” gets a mention in “Star Tribune” article by Jenna Ross:

“Museums harbor these amazing collections — authentic objects that come with so much character and information and stories,” said Elif Gokcigdem, a Washington, D.C.-based Islamic art historian and author of the 2016 book “Fostering Empathy Through Museums.” People who encounter them connect to those pieces “not just intellectually but also emotionally, through our minds and hearts. If we can get people to do that within the museum, then maybe we can also get people to do that in their everyday lives.”



Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) Establishes the World’s First “Center for Empathy and Visual Arts” Through a Mellon Foundation Grant

Congratulations to Mia for receiving a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish the world’s first “Center for Empathy and Visual Arts” —I am honored to be a grant advisor for Mia on this project, and a member of the CEVA Advisory Committee!

“The center’s goal, said museum president and director Kaywin Feldman in a statement, is to learn “how to spark and nurture empathy through the visual arts, so that MIA and all art museums can contribute even more toward building a just and harmonious society.”

“MIA has mapped out a five-year initiative for the center, according to theMinneapolis Star Tribune. The museum will enlist everyone from researchers, scholars, and philosophers to artists, thought leaders, and content experts to determine how museums can help their audiences develop compassion and become more emotionally intelligent.”

“The two institutions kicked off their efforts in October, inviting a group of 12 museum professionals along with thought leaders like a neuroscientist, a historian, and a Google representative, to take part in a think tank at the school. “They all studied empathy, but from different angles,” said Feldman, noting that she had been to a lot of museum conferences with panels about empathy but had never tackled it head on.

The first phase of the project aims to develop and test ways that museums can help promote empathy among visitors. The hope is to create tools that will be utilized by other institutions around the world for the same ends. The museum plans to publish its findings and hold conferences on the topic.”

Please see the link below for the full article:


“Empathy-Building” Listed As a Trend & “Fostering Empathy Through Museums” Listed As A Reference Book In The AAM – Center For The Future Of Museums’ “TrendsWatch 2017”


It is an honor to be listed as an advisor in the preparation of the American Alliance of Museums – Center for the Future of Museums’ “TrendsWatch 2017” report, which identifies “empathy-building as a trend” in a chapter titled: “A Mile In My Shoes: Closing the Empathy Deficit.” The same chapter lists “Fostering Empathy Through Museums” as a reference book on this subject.

The full report can be accessed through the following link:  https://aam-us.org/docs/default-source/center-for-the-future-of-museums/trendswatch-2017.pdf?sfvrsn=2

“Fostering Empathy Through Museums” was at the Minneapolis Institute of Art – U.C. Berkeley Behavioral Science Lab “Center for Empathy & Visual Arts” Workshop



Just participated in a truly amazing “Visual Arts and Empathy Think Tank” at the U.C. Berkeley, where “Fostering Empathy Through Museums” was used as a reference book throughout! Hosted by the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia)’s newly launched Center for Empathy and Visual Arts (CEVA) and the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab (BSI).

The workshop included 15 empathy thought leaders from left to right: Dr. Elise Ogle, Project manager, Researcher, and 3D modeler in the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University / Dr. Elif M. Gokcigdem, founder of the Empathy-Building Through Museums Initiative / Dr. Marco lacoboni, Lab Director and Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Director of the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Lab at the UCLA Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center / Dr. Dacher Keltner, Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley / Dario Robleto, American transdisciplinary artist, storyteller, and citizen-scientist / Alex Bortolot, Content Strategist at Mia / Natalie Wright, Chipstone’s Charles Hummel Curatorial Fellow / Danielle Krettek, Principal and Founder of Google’s Empathy Lab / Paul Gabriel, Educational Therapist / Karleen Gardner, Director of Learning Innovation at Mia / Dr. Timothy Patrick McCarthy, Lecturer on History and Literature, Public Policy, and Education, and Director of Culture Change & Social Justice Initiatives and the Emerging Human Rights Leaders Program at Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy / Dana Mekler, Global Manager for the Empathy Initiative at Ashoka / Dr. Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas, Science director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley / Dr. Sara Konrath, Assistant Professor of Philanthropic Studies at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy / Kaywin Feldman, Nivin and Duncan MacMillan Director and President of the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Empathy-building in the SANDbox

Recently participated in “The Emergent Universe” – Science and Nonduality (SAND) Conference in San Jose with a poster presentation titled: “Museums as Portals to Compassionate Worldviews Through Empathy-building.” More information on the conference can be found here: https://www.scienceandnonduality.com/SAND17/US_Program.html

To access the poster presentation shown in the picture, please click on the link below:

Elif Posters (1)