How does a diverse community thrive in spaces that were designed to be exclusionary? Museums—with histories tied to colonial violence and racist practices and whose survival is largely reliant on the generosity of wealthy donors—were not built to be inclusive. Yet many museums’ missions and the people who bring these missions to life have egalitarian aims. In recent years museum practitioners across the country have been proactively confronting our histories of colonization and exclusion and advancing equity and inclusion.
Museums of all types have formed cross-departmental teams to critique their internal practices, review hiring processes, and ultimately foster a more diverse and inclusive environment for both visitors and staff alike. But how do such initiatives get off the ground? How do individuals build support among all stakeholders and successfully advocate for new positions, programs, and cross-departmental working groups? How can colleagues work together across departments to foster more inclusive museum practices?
This book from the American Alliance of Museums brings together a collection of tools, solutions, and models from DEAI practitioners who have actively worked together towards institutional change. With 60% BIPOC authorship, this book will provide hope and inspiration, as well as concrete strategies for museum workers all over the country who are achieving small wins and fostering sweeping change in the predominantly white cultural sector through innovation, collaboration, and courage.
This is the first book to focus specifically on collaborative and inclusive practices in equity and anti-racism work in different types of museums. Its case studies demonstrate the importance of relationship building, authentic connections, and developing foundations together over time, providing a much-needed resource for museum professionals at every level who are grappling with inequities that are pervasive in museums.
Priya Frank (she/her) has over 25 years of experience in equity, diversity and inclusion work professionally, educationally and personally. Currently, she is the Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the Seattle Art Museum. Frank served on the Seattle Arts Commission from 2014-2020 which she co-chaired from 2018-2020. She was named in 2018’s Most Influential People list by Seattle Magazine, and was one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s top 40 under 40 in 2019. Frank holds a B.A. in Communications and American Ethnic Studies from University of Washington Seattle and an M.A. in Cultural Studies from University of Washington Bothell.
Theresa Sotto (she/her) has worked at the crossroads of education, equity, and the arts for over 25 years. She is currently the Ruth R. Marder Director of Learning & Community Engagement at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She previously worked at the Hammer Museum, Getty Museum, and University of Arizona Poetry Center. She has also held consulting roles to develop educational resources for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She frequently leads trainings for museum professionals on implicit bias and privilege awareness, and she has presented across the U.S. on topics related to inclusive gallery teaching, innovative programming models, and diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Priya Frank and Theresa Sotto
I. Goal and Vision Setting
1. Carving a Path from Diversity to Justice
Anniessa Antar and Elisabeth Callihan with contributions by Alice Anderson, Gretchen Halverson, Frances Lloyd-Baynes, Thomas Lyon, Tobie Miller, Krista Pearson, Frederica Simmons, Jamie Van Nostrand, Keisha Williams, and Jill Ahlberg Yohe
2.DEAI Committees as Drivers of Organizational Change
Jenni Martin, Marilee Jennings, and Cecilia Garibay
3. Using an Inspirational Read to Build an Institutional DEAI Action Plan
Brindha Muniappan and Neil Gordon
4. The Individual as Agitant: Catalyzing Transformational Change
II. Structure, Sustainability, and Impact
5. The Hammer Museum’s Diversity and Inclusion Group: Evolution and Impact
Alexander Barrera, Tara Burns, Theresa Sotto, and Nick Stephens
6. The Accessibility Task Force at The Museum of Modern Art
Francesca Rosenberg and Lara Schweller
7. Be Bold: Small Actions Lead to Big Change
Julia Latané and Stacey Gevero Swanby with contributions by George Luna Peña
III. Assessment and Accountability
8. Using Data to Inform Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategy at the Minnesota Historical Society
9. Polishing the Mirror: Reflections on the Equity Audit Developed and Conducted by the Corning Museum of Glass
Katherine Larson and Lianne Uesato
10. From Awareness to Action: Developing Your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategy Through Racial Healing
Regina N. Ford
11. Holding Ourselves Accountable to Anti-Racist Work at the RISD Museum
Lily Benedict, MJ Robinson, and Kajette Solomon
IV. Staff Learning and Training
12. Elements of Friendship: An Approach to Internal Community Building
Ashanti Davis, Mel Harper, and Marissa Volpe
13. Embracing Our Complexities in Arts Spaces: Implicit Bias Training and Trauma-Informed Approaches
Sue Bell Yank and Theresa Sotto
14. Sustaining Anti-Racism Education in Museums: Advice from Anti-Racism Facilitators
Marit Dewhurst and Keonna Hendrick
V. Engaging Groups beyond Staff
15. Redefining Consultation: The Burke Museum Native American Advisory Board
Rex Buck Jr., Polly Olsen, Sumathi Raghavan, and Julie K. Stein
16. Integrating Volunteers into Every Stage of DEAI Work
Andrew Palamara and Caitlin Tracey-Miller
17. Old Systems, New Voices: Building Pathways for Change at Seattle Art Museum
Priya Frank, Tina Lee, Regan Pro, and David Rue
About the Authors
About the Editors
A must-add to any museum practitioner’s library, this work deftly responds to the question of how DEAI success is measured at the programmatic and organizational levels.
The authors and co-editors—41 museum leaders across the United States and their teams—draw from experience viable solutions they have applied to institutional challenges in DEAI and justice work.
Through trial and error, trust and frustration, collaborative work, and time, each author’s story reflects the kind of rigor necessary for lasting change.
8/11/12, Choice: This title was featured in a roundup of forthcoming titles in business.