As the Incluseum enters its 5th year (!) we continue to publish new content from some amazing museum folks. Additionally, we are always working on projects in parallel. This year there have been new opportunities to travel to museums, conferences and events where we have been able to share about the Incluseum’s work and values as well as organize with colleagues around creating a more just and equitable field. Sometimes it takes us a little while to share-out from all these varied projects here on the blog, but I (Aletheia) thought it would be good timing for a brief tour of some of the work that I’ve been involved in over the last six months.
This past Spring at the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Annual Conference in DC, we ran a program called Bias Cache (which we wrote about here) for the Center for the Future of Museums Booth with Nicole Ivy, Margaret Middleton, and Porchia Moore. I also worked with my friends and colleagues Tim Hecox, Virgil Talaid and Cecile Shellman (DivCom PN leaders) to host events with the DivCom Professional Network (in my role as an Officer). Then, I joined with a network of professionals to support a Gathering hosted by the Museums & Race Initiative.
Flash forward to Fall! As a Project Advisor for MASS Action (Museums as a Site of Social Action), I traveled to Minneapolis to gather with museum professionals from around the country who use the lenses of social justice, decolonization and anti-oppression in their work. Following the event, several of us wrote a piece for the Center for the Future of Museums blog to share about the project and our collective work to build a toolkit here. This toolkit will be a game changer for those seeking to make their institutions responsive, essential and equitable community members. I am proud to be part of this project and connected with the amazing outpouring of energy, care and time that it represents. Soon there will be news about how to engage deeply with the toolkit which we will be sure to share through The Incluseum blog.
After the energizing experience of being with everyone in Minneapolis to kick-start the MASS Action toolkit development, I reunited with Cecile Shellman (Diveristy Catalyst at the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh) and Porchia Moore in Pittsburgh together with Stephanie Cunningham, of Museum Hue and the African American Museum in Philadelphia. The culmination of our day together at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh was a public program hosted at the Carnegie Museum of Art where we all presented about our personal work and then, moved into a Q&A on inclusion in museums today. It was a real pleasure to share about my role in developing the Inclsuem, my take on inclusion and my position as a white ally/accomplice. We ended the night with, of course, a round of #DrinkingAboutMuseums!
Next, Porchia and I met up in Canada in November as Keynote workshop presenters for the Ontario Museums Association Annual Conference in Mississauga, Ontario, right outside Toronto. Our workshop kicked off by asking conference participants to join us in collective reflection on the varied definitions we project onto the idea of “inclusion.” Rapid-fire definitions were brainstormed and shared in a group of around 300 participants! We then had the chance to walk through the ways we (Porchia and I) use and don’t use the term “inclusion” in our work and asked participants to design their own Incluseum that reflected inclusion-as-process and inclusion-as-core-value. We asked participants to tweet along with the workshop and share their designs via twitter. You can check out the archived conversations and images via the Storify (available here). Our time at the conference was an incredible opportunity for us to connect with Canadian museum colleagues and learn about their work, which I refer to briefly here in a previous post.
I have loved all these opportunities to represent the Incluseum as a guest speaker, adviser and workshop facilitator. If you are looking for a consultant to work with your organization on evaluating, developing and advising for programs, exhibits, or organizational change, please get in touch! Whether you are interested in working with me or interested in getting recommendations for consultants who are Incluseum collaborators in your region, we look forward to hearing from you.
Aletheia Wittman cofounded and coordinates The Incluseum. She is the founder of Inclusion Facilitation, a consultancy based in Seattle, Washington where she is an independent curator, programmer and inclusion facilitator. Over the last four and half years Aletheia worked as Exhibit and Public Programs Manager for the Seattle Architecture Foundation (SAF); collaborating with SAF volunteers and community partners to develop programs that focus on community driven architecture and design. She is on the advisory team for MASS Action (Museums As A Site for Social Action) with the Minneapolis Institute of Art and is a officer for the American Alliance of Museums Diversity Committee. She has worked on projects with the Museums & Race Initiative and All Rise Seattle among others. Aletheia has an MA Museology from the University of Washington where she researched emerging curatorial practices in art museums and their relationship to social justice. She tweets at @AletheiaJane and you can contact her for questions or to hire her by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.