Over the last few weeks, the confluence of COVID-19 & Black Lives Matter has prompted museums of all types to think differently about their organizational structure and their critical role as civic institutions.
Now, museums are working diligently and are making radical internal shifts in order to not just survive the pandemic, but to thrive in a world that is now bringing a broader awareness to the history of systemic racism.
Beyond developing plans of diversity and inclusion and releasing a statement in support of Black Lives Matter, there are many steps institutions can take in recognizing and challenging historic oppression, taking a committed stand against racism, injustice, and violence against people of color, and developing REAL action.
In our efforts to encourage a healthier and more unbiased museum field, the Western Museums Association is providing support through the sharing of trusted and valuable educational resources to help museums examine our own complicity in institutional racism, reaffirm a commitment to racial injustices, and develop concrete action plans.
Firstly, we have developed a new Diversity & Inclusion Resources page on our website. Here, you’ll find an array of educational and actionable resources, articles on how to talk about race and racial identity with staff, visitors, and community members, and ways that you can implement and maintain diversity and inclusion within your own institution.
You can also view sample diversity and inclusion statements and take a readiness assessment(s) to help determine where your institution stands now on its journey towards a more equitable future.
Secondly, we understand that in order to help make the necessary changes we need to see happen within our own institutions and within the greater museum field as a whole, we not only need to look inwards at ourselves, but we need to address and support the psychological and emotional needs of our staff and colleagues.
To help all museum professionals take the necessary steps to maintain a strong, central well-being during these unparalleled and ambiguous times, both inside and outside of work, we created a Self-Care Resources page. From articles and lessons, to activities and #MomentsOfZen, you can find a variety of useful content on this page.
Thirdly, as the foundation of the museum field continues to alter under the global Coronavirus pandemic, we reorganized our collection of online resources to make your search for information more efficient.
Our COVID-19 Resources page has been broken up into new sections and expanded our website to include a Reopening Resources page. Here, you’ll find a variety of information including general reopening guidance, downloadable social distancing signage, as well as ideas on how to collect and document COVID-19 stories.
We understand that there is still a lot to be learned in our own organization and the wider museum field and we hope these resources will aid and inspire. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, we as a field must go beyond acknowledging the importance of injustice and engage in behaviors that activate and preserve substantial change and sustainability.
Please take the time to look through these pages and resources and check our website regularly as we make continuous updates.
Written by Jessica Noyes – WMA Communications Coordinator