We say a special thanks to Kajette, Lily and MJ at the RISD Museum for contacting us to share their work and their willingness to revisit their original article from last year to add the following reflections. Offering Incluseum readers this sharp lens, informed by the museum landscape we are now operating within, allows us additional and resonant readings of the article they penned (which you can find at the link below).
For the past three years, the RISD Museum has engaged in staff-led dialogue sessions around issues of power, racism, and social equity within the museum field and our own institution. We are now working mostly remotely amidst multiple crises, including a climate of racial reckoning following the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate our communities physically, emotionally, and economically. Institutions are closing and museum workers, including our coworkers and colleagues, are being furloughed and laid off in massive numbers. These crises have all prompted us to deepen our institutional commitments to racial justice and social equity with concrete actions. In our recent virtual All-Staff Dialogue session, we asked ourselves: How can we be responsive rather than reactive? What will we do next, and what will our commitment to holding each other accountable look like in practice?
We know that systemic change and anti-racist work in museums with problematic legacies steeped in colonialism, imperialism, and white supremacy is an ongoing journey. We wrote this article last year in hopes that our experiences can inspire others to try changing institutional culture by investing in working in new, experimental ways. The museums we will return to post-COVID will have to be different. Better. These dialogues prompt us to think deeply about and question both our personal and institutional values as both individual museum employees and as a collective body of workers. Are we complicit finger-pointers, or are we actively working together toward equity and inclusion?
Read the article here:
Lily Benedict is a Museum Educator for School & Teacher Programs at the RISD Museum in Providence, RI. Prior to coming to RISD, Lily worked as an educator for the Museum of Natural History in Providence and the Rhode Island Museum of Science and Art (RIMOSA), and in the curatorial and exhibition departments of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the MIT Museum, and the American Museum of Natural History. She has a BA in Anthropology from Cornell University and an MA in Public Humanities from Brown University. You can contact Lily at email@example.com.
MJ Robinson is a Museum Educator for School & Teacher Programs at the RISD Museum in Providence, RI. They are also an author-illustrator, cartoonist, and community organizer for prison abolition, LGBTQ rights, and racial justice. MJ holds a certificate in Children’s Book Illustration from RISD and a BA in Studio Art and Creative Writing from Oberlin College. You can contact MJ at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter here.
Kajette Solomon is the Education Program Coordinator at the RISD Museum where she manages the Docent Program as well as the coordination and realization of the Museum’s many programs that create connections between audiences, collections, and exhibitions. Before moving to Rhode Island, Kajette was an Account Manager at Bridgeman Images in New York working with museums, educational publishers, advertising agencies and design firms. She has also held positions at Gallery Z in Providence, The Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College, the Studio Museum in Harlem and at David Zwirner Gallery in New York City. She has a BA in Art History from Arcadia University and MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History, Theory and Criticism from State University of New York at Purchase College. You can contact Kajette at email@example.com and on Instagram @kajettes.