For decades the country’s mainstream art museums have excluded people of color — from their top leadership to the curators who create shows to the artists they display on their walls.
Now, eager to attract a broader cross-section of visitors at a time when the country’s demographics are changing — and, in New York, facing an ultimatum linking city funding to inclusion plans — a growing number of museums are addressing diversity with new urgency. From the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma), they are hiring more minority staff members, offering paid internships and partnering with foundations and universities that fund curatorial jobs, to ensure that the next generation of leaders of color get into the pipeline.
Last year, AAM’s Inclusion Team introduced a number of new offerings at the AAM Annual Meeting designed to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all attendees. This year, the Inclusion Team has led the effort to create a Code of Conduct for AAM events.This Code of Conduct, introduced in April 2018, is based on the example policy from the Geek Feminism wiki and uses language with permission from the Nonprofit Technology Conference’s Code of Conduct.
Created by The Minneapolis Institute of Art, in collaboration with stakeholders across the field, MASS Action is a platform for public dialogues on a variety of topics and issues affecting our communities locally and globally, leading to actionable practices for greater equity and inclusion in our institutions.
In thinking about museums as “sites for social action,” MASS Action has created a comprehensive guide that outlines the theory and tools for practice towards creating greater equity within the museum field.
This guide is one of many components of the Museum Accessibility, Inclusion and Engagement Collaborative (MAIEC) project that was launched in December of 2015 by the Ontario Museum Association (OMA), the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI). The MAIEC project is our response to the challenge we posed to the broader museum community in the 2016 Conference, and a recognition of the needs we face as a sector to do better, and continue doing better, in truly being inclusive to the communities we serve.
Roberto Tejada, CAA’s newly elected vice president for diversity and inclusion and Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor in the Departments of English and Art History at University of Houston, spoke with Hunter O’Hanian, CAA’s executive director, about the state of the field and why achieving true diversity is so difficult in the arts field.
Following the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, the Museum Access Consortium (MAC) was formed by a small group of museum and disability professionals that started meeting informally to discuss topics related to accessibility at their New York-based institutions. Today, MAC is an association that regularly hosts professional development workshops and offers a network of mutual support to help practitioners engage with disability advocates and people who have disabilities to learn about, implement, and strengthen best practices for access and inclusion in cultural facilities of all types throughout the New York metro area and beyond.
This document contains guidelines (listed together in the Overview section) as well as design tools (listed in conjunction with the guidelines in Section B). The guidelines are in part based on construction standards established for the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. They represent Smithsonian methods for arriving at the laws’ required end: accessible exhibitions that work for people with disabilities as well as for the rest of the public. Together the guidelines become the Smithsonian standard for accessible exhibition design.
In 2015, Ithaka S+R, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) set out to quantify with demographic data an issue that has been of increasing concern within and beyond the arts community: the lack of representative diversity in professional museum roles. Ithaka’s analysis found there were structural barriers to entry in these positions for people of color.
The program will include up to ten students, and will take place over the course of twelve weeks at different AAMD member institutions.