see attachmentsPART ONE: Sexuality & Accessibility in museums

Choose one text from this week’s readings on the subject of “Sexuality” and summarize it, or respond to it, in no more than 200 words. Be certain to articulate what it means to “queer the museum.” ( Attachment #1)
Choose one text from this week’s readings on the subject of “Accessibility” and summarize, or respond to it, it in no more than 200 words. Be sure to articulate the ways in which you believe museums are addressing (or not) issues related to accessibility. ( Attachment #2)

PART TWO:
1-Read: “Mellon Foundation – Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey.” ( Attachment #3)
2-Read: Maura Reilly, “Tackling White Privilege and Western-centrism,” Curatorial Activism (Thames & Hudson, 2018), pp. 98-111. ( Attachment #4)

3-Then, in 400-word posting present an argument about the importance of cultural diversity within museums, while incorporating information from other class readings. What are museums doing to address racial inequities? In your opinion, who is doing this well, and who isn’t – and why? (Be certain to prove to me that you have read several of this week’s readings.)Museums and Sexuality
by Stuart Frost

Stuart Frost is Head of Interpretation and Volunteers at the British Museum. Prior to this, he spent
eight years as a member of the Interpretation Team at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. He
began his museum career in 1998 at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Sex and sexuality are fundamental aspects of what

it is to be human. Historically, museums have

found sexuality difficult to address (Frost 2008,

Liddiard 1996). The material culture of some

ancient civilisations was so problematic that

museums restricted access to it. Excavations at

Pompeii and Herculaneum demonstrated that

Roman attitudes to sex were very different to those

of 19th century Europe. During the early decades

of the 1800s, both the National Archaeological

Museum of Naples and the British Museum created

secret museums to contain ‘disreputable

monuments of pagan licentiousness’ (Caro 2000,

Wallace, Kemp and Bernstein 2007). The British

Museum’s Secretum grew significantly as the 19th

century progressed (Gaimster 2000, 2001),

encompassing material from other continents and

cultures. Secret museums, private cases,

censorship and segregation are evidenced

elsewhere (Quignard and Seckel 2007). Libraries

created similar spaces to contain material that was

regarded as ‘obscene’ or ‘pornographic’. The British

Library, London had a Private Case, and the

Biblioth�eque national, Paris had an equivalent

known as ‘Hell’.

Although the era of the secret museum or

restricted collection waned in the 1950s and

1960s, it bequeathed a challenging legacy to future

generations of museum staff. Sexually robust

material languished in storage, uncatalogued and

unregistered, and received less academic attention

than other parts of museum collections. It took

time for the aesthetic, artistic and cultural value of

objects once regarded as pornographic, licentious

or obscene to be recognised.

The acknowledgement of diversity in sexuality

is something that museums around the world

have historically found even more difficult to

acknowledge. Museums and galleries have

privileged and supported heteronormative

histories and perspectives (Petry 2004). Lesbian,

gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) experience

has been ignored or marginalised, and active

collecting of LGBT history is a recent

phenomenon. Museums, which are traditionally

characterised by a single authoritative voice, have

struggled to acknowledge difference and

diversity, and to keep pace with social change.

That museums have encountered difficulties is

not surprising:

Lesbian, gay, bi and trans experiences and

histories are a relatively new area for

examination within the museum sector [. . .] Any

investigation [. . .] throws up many questions and

provides only partial answers. Perhaps the most

complex question stems from the inherent

contradiction that lies at the centre of the gay

liberation movement and its legacy — the desire

to eradica4
BEYOND COMPLIANCE?
Museums, disability and the law

Heather J. L. Smith, Barry Ginley and Hannah Goodwin

Access should be formally established as a right and not a benevolent demonstration of being
reasonable.

Prideaux 2006: 62

The second half of the twentieth century saw the emergence and increasing influence of the
disability rights movement in the United States and UK. Disability activists played a key role
in increasing the visibility of disabled people, making a powerful case for equality and high-
lighting widespread social, political, economic and cultural discrimination. Alongside battles
for equal access to education, employment opportunities, participation in political processes
and so on, activists also sought to challenge dominant cultural representations of disability (the
disabled person as freak, outsider, recipient of charity) that underpinned deeply entrenched
negative attitudes (including fear, repulsion and pity) amongst the non-disabled population
(Gartner and Joe 1987; Hevey 1992; Oliver 1996).

The separation of disabled people from the mainstream and their exclusion from many
institutions and settings within the public sphere was challenged alongside the assumption
that the ‘solution’ to the ‘problem’ of disability was to be found in medical knowledge. As
disability scholars Barnes et al. (1999: 27) explained:

In developing what became known as a social approach to disability, disabled people
. . . argued that it is society which disabled people with impairments, and therefore any
meaningful solution must be directed at social change rather than individual adjustment
and rehabilitation.

Disability activists made the cause they championed impossible to ignore at a political level
and the need for a legislative response that would tackle discrimination became increasingly
inevitable. In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990,
followed some years later by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in the UK in 1995.

These landmark acts and subject revisions and additions to the bodies of anti-discrimination
legislation that exist in the UK and United States (as well as their counterparts in many other

60 H. J. L. Smith et al.

parts of the world), have undoubtedly played a key role in enhancing access to cultural organi-
sations for disabled people. However, despite some important advances in the sector and
impressive examples of innovation, the experiences of visitors suggest that there is a consider-
able distance to go before equality for disabled people is fully embedded in museum thinking,
practice and organisational values. As Marcus Weisen (2010: 54) argues:

Billions have been spent in recent years on new museums, major extensions and refur-
bishments across the globe, with little or no regard paid to providing a shared experi-
ence of the collections for disabled people. The cumulative effect is discrimination on a
grand scale against disabled REPORT

Art Museum Staff Demographic
Survey 2018

January 28, 2019

Mariët Westermann | mw@mellon.org
Roger Schonfeld | roger.schonfeld@ithaka.org
Liam Sweeney | liam.sweeney@ithaka.org

ART MUSEUM STAFF DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEY 2018 1

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
endeavors to strengthen, promote, and,
where necessary, defend the
contributions of the humanities and the
arts to human flourishing and to the
wellbeing of diverse and democratic
societies.

Ithaka S+R provides research and
strategic guidance to help the academic
and cultural communities serve the
public good and navigate economic,
demographic, and technological change.
Ithaka S+R is part of ITHAKA, a not-
for-profit organization that works to
advance and preserve knowledge and to
improve teaching and learning through
the use of digital technologies. Artstor,
JSTOR, and Portico are also part of
ITHAKA.

Copyright 2019 The Andrew W. Mellon
Foundation. This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-
NonCommercial 4.0 International
License. To view a copy of the license,
please see http://creative-
commons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
The Mellon Foundation encourages
distribution of the report. For questions,
please write to lw@mellon.org.

ART MUSEUM STAFF DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEY 2018 2

Foreword

In 2014, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ithaka S+R, the Association of Art Museum
Directors, and the American Alliance of Museums undertook an effort to measure the
demographics of the staff of US art museums. The report, published in 2015, found that
the museum population was about ten percentage points more racially and ethnically
homogenous than the US population, and that in the positions of curators, educators,
conservators, and museum leadership there were further barriers to entry for people of
color; people holding those positions were 84 percent white non-Hispanic, four percent
African American, six percent Asian, three percent Hispanic, and three percent two or
more races.1 Current census projections predict that the US population will no longer
have a white majority in 2045, as multiracial, Asian, and Hispanic populations will
continue to grow.2 While the US population is growing increasingly diverse, the positions
that are most directly responsible for presenting, interpreting, and caring for art objects
from all the world’s cultures over time are not yet reflecting that diversity. We saw a
bright spot in gender balance, as women made up a significant proportion of art museum
staff, though we saw a higher proportion of male curators and museum leaders in
relation to other intellectual leadership positions.

Since the 2015 study the Mellon Foundation has invested in several initiatives that can
help us understand better the challenges museums face when working to diversify their
staff and to make their museums more welcoming and accessible to people of color,
whether they be99

“[The art world] is one of the last bastions of
white supremacy-by-exclusion.” 1

Judith Wilson

Between 1989 and 1995, several

landmark art exhibitions were

organized in Europe and the USA

that departed from what had

been the traditional curatorial

practices of art institutions in those regions, including Magiciens de

la terre (1989), The Decade Show: Frameworks of Identity in the 1980s

(1990), Mining the Museum (1992–93), and the Whitney Biennial of

1993. While there had, of course, been exhibitions before these that

were international and multicultural—namely, Documentas and

Biennials—none had set out to be as consciously inclusive of the Other

(defined in these exhibitions as non-Western and/or non-white).

Each of the shows insisted that no evaluation of contemporary culture

could ignore the marginalization of large groups of non-Western

(and non-white) artists, and attempted to overturn the binary pairing

of center/periphery and black/white upon which Modernism itself was

founded. The framework of each exhibition posed an unprecedented

challenge to the mainstream art world by calling into question its

Western-centrism, while some—especially The Decade Show and the

1993 Whitney Biennial—resulted in the recognition and inclusion of

more “hyphenated” artists into contemporary art discourse (Latin-

Americans, Asian-Americans, and so on). Although the principal goal

for many of these activist exhibitions was to give voice to “minority”

artists, most were criticized for pandering to political correctness,

3. TACKLING WHITE
PRIVILEGE AND

WESTERN-CENTRISM

01007_Curatorial_Activism.indd 98-99 09/10/2017 15:02

100 101

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M whiteness, white thinkers and white history to perpetuate
whiteness. We know how to read between the lines.

4. Your choice to reproduce a whitewashed art world has material

effects on the lived experiences of people of color and denies the

shifts taking place in our visual world.4

Their anger was more than justified, given that only 8 out of the 103

artists were non-white. That is a shocking statistic, and even more

egregious when one considers that the museum billed it as “one of the

broadest and most diverse takes on art in the United States that the

Whitney has offered in many years.” 5

The same Whitney Biennial experienced more controversy

when the collective HowDoYouSayYaminAfrican (known as Yams)—

a group of thirty-eight artists of color—withdrew their video from

the exhibition, expressing concern about the lack of black and female

artists in the show. They stated that they had intended their initial

participation to be an intervention into a white supremacist institution,

and one they hoped would change the Whitney’s systemic racism

from within: “We are protesting institutional white supremacy and

how it plays out,” they explained.6 “A mai




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