Starting your week with wisdom!
Over the past week, LaTanya S. Autry has shared excerpts from A Museum for the People: A Report of Proceedings at the Seminar on Neighborhood Museums, Museums Collaborative (MUSE) from 1969. The assertions and observations made at the seminar are echoed today…over 50 years later.
It’s not a recent revelation that the traditional museum model perpetuates society’s oppressive systems and structures, selectively serving certain communities while neglecting others. Today’s conversations about reimagining and creating new cultural spaces that are people and community-centered are part of a legacy. We need to become familiar with the work of those who have come before us as we move forward.
What can we learn from our predecessors?
What do we continue to carry with us?
What can and should we do differently?
The images in this post and text below are from Autry’s Instagram (@artstuffmatters) posted on May 11, 2021:
Ok, I’m putting the pieces together — residential segregation, policing, museums.
A lot of museums in major cities aren’t connected to the people who live in the nearby areas. These institutions operate more like occupying forces – sitting on stolen land, often hoarding stolen cultural property, ignoring, restricting and violating communities of color even when in cities that are majority Black, Brown, ‘led’ by managers and board members who live in affluent, white suburbs.
Seriously, we need to examine white flight in relation to museum directorships/boards/funders. Tell me someone’s on that!
In 1969 John Kinard, director of the Anacostia Museum in Washington D.C. emphasized the importance of proximity, authentic relationships, rootedness in his address at the Seminar on Neighborhood Museums.
A community museum isn’t about isolation, separation, sameness, being a plaything of/mirror for the privileged class. For Kinard it’s beyond conventions. It’s living, truthful, responsive, connected to the people, transformative.
from A Museum for the People: A Report of Proceedings at the Seminar on Neighborhood Museums, Museums Collaborative (MUSE), 1969, p.27-29