|Compiled responses 7-29-20|
|Welcome to the NJAM Idea Exchange. The goals of this activity are to:|
|a) learn something new and b) share ideas, solutions, and questions with each other as we all think about how our museums can respond to systemic racism and make changes moving forward.|
|For each of the questions below, please have a brief discussion with your group, and then record your ideas in the "Responses" column.|
|I'll send time checks and updates via the "broadcasting" system and potentially through the chat window as well.|
|Thanks so much!|
|1) What have been some recent examples that you have seen of positive and productive forms of responses to systemic racism in museums or other sectors that we might learn from?||Tenement museum posted list of things they want to do in response to solidarity statements. Going beyond old limits of diversity training to embrace anti-racism. HR shifts in interviewing/requirements. Jews of India exhibit. Street murals for Black Lives Matter in many communities. Mahwah Museum having presentation on historic statues and their building/removal. Uptick in flattening museum hierarchies. Nina Simon's of/by/for all initiative. Seattle radio station changed programming to be more inclusive https://kexp.org/read/2020/7/15/new-weekday-radio-lineup-leads-programming-changes-kexp/ |
Library book clubs (Union NJ) being more inclusive. The Museum of Early Trades & Crafts is part of an initiative to develop a monthly Community Conversations specifically as it relates to systemic racism.
Jewish Museum at Ahavas Sholom in Newark has exhibits and programs that integrate the African American and Jewish experience. The Montclair History Center continues to offer online programming about race and racial issues. This is a continuation of what we have been doing for the last 6 years.
Fred Wilson's installation, Mining the Museum, at the Maryland Historical Society remains, over 25 years later, a groundbreaking exhibition in looking at museum collections through an African American lens.
morven.org has redone exhibition to reflect enslaved and indigenous people.
|2) As you think about planning for making changes in your workspace, what are some challenges that come to mind?||Pipeline: working in non profit is long road, not everyone can financially start or continue on this road. Being diverse but not inclusive. Time - this history has been buried and we need the time to research and uncover these primary sources.|
we want to focus on making certain we include our board in these discussions and address the topic of being a more inclusive and diverse board, brining in new board members who are representative of the greater community. Leadership/board often not having the lived experiences needed to understand the issues and/or make the best decisions.
Safe space to have honest and open communication about the issue and how to effect change.
Volunteers - how can you best encourage and use them more. Funding - the argument that it's better to have racist donors than not have the funding to exist at all. Comittment from every level of the museum to do the work.
The time and expertise needed to ex amine existing collections and update catalogue information to eliminate racist and inaccurate information and categorization.
|3) What is one "action step" you plan to take - for yourself and/or your organization - as you start on your journey to make changes?||Create community boards to bring in other voices. Create space for more voices and bring more chairs to the table (not all at the board level). Support and amplify the voices and work of artists from diverse backgrounds. The Mahwah Museum as had a series of lectures on the Ramapough Indians. We are now preparing an exhibit on the Ramapough which will open in 2021.|
We are re-thinking how we tell our stories. For example, are we leaving out people or groups of people in our exhibits or programs? And are we presenting these in a way that is relatable to people of all cultures? And how can we address this?
Reach out to talk with and obtain permission from BIPOC artists in our communities before using their work in our marketing and social media...and develop ways to support them as well as our BLM statements.
We plan to re-evaluate the "Native American" artifacts that are part of our collection to identify what actually represents the indigenous people (The Lenape) from our area and to provide context to the artifacts that are more generic items that the donor considered to be Native Amercia over 30 years ago.
over 30 years ago. Give agency to BIPOC staff members so that when you make the table bigger you also make space for tangible actions for anti racist policies. Think about how you can document changes, collect data, so in the future you have ways to show your progress and why it's important. Look at what's going on around us now, are you collecting what is happening now? One very simple step every institution can take without expense or much staff time is to research and write an Indigenous land acknowledgement (like what Claudia shared at the program start) and make it a standard part of your museum program introductions. When those histories are front and center in your programming, it leads to other important conversations about systemic racism and this nation's history of violence. We should invite individuals, especially young people, to journal their reactions and participation in the current revolution and Black Lives Matter. These voices are important records for the future. The Massachusetts Historical Society is doing a project now asking people to provide their current stories. Also collaboration is important; if you don't have the resources to expand and diversify your own collections, consider loans, or creating consortia with other museums or historical sites. Collections are an important thing to be thinking about, because there can be a lag time of years, decades, centuries between what issues we might want to address in the here and now, and what our collections can easily support. Morris Museum’s COVID-19 oral history project: https://morrismuseum.org/covid19-history/