The M Blog
The M Blog is an online space for us and for you — artists, museum staff and curators, guest writers, and community contributors — to discuss issues and ideas related to the many experiences of being American today.
We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and our BIPOC communities now and into the future.
Black Lives Matter.
Demands for justice in the face of George Floyd’s murder are reverberating from the Twin Cities across the world. Museums are not neutral and must actively participate in the dismantling of deeply rooted, systemic racism and racial violence in America. The M stands in solidarity with the Black community and allies showing up in the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul—to protest, clean up, and support the tired, angry, and grieving. The many visionary Black and BIPOC artists in the mix are testifying to the power of art to confront white supremacy, to speak truth to power, to honor and resist forgetting, and to heal. We’re listening and reflecting on how the M can center and help sustain this anti-racist work.
Letter from Kristin Makholm
To Our Beloved Community,
In these past weeks, since the murder of George Floyd, I have been deeply moved by the sheer horror and inhumanity of this tragedy, by the pain pouring from Black people reeling from centuries of systemic racism and injustice, and by the power of voices coming from everywhere. It’s a wakeup call—a wakeup scream—that must be heeded.
Just as museums like the M helped perpetuate systemic racism and systems of white supremacy, so we are committed to fighting it and transforming it from the ground up. We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities during this critical time. We share the pain of our society, especially of our Black brothers and sisters, and commit to the work necessary to dismantle racism and to help heal the wound festering at the heart of our world.
The museum’s board of trustees approved a strategic plan last year that places anti-racism at the core of the M’s mission—to do the progressive and sustained work to fight racism in our organization and in our community. Our exhibitions have centered these voices of artists and curators of color. We have worked to build partnerships that go beyond words to actions. And we have purchased artwork by artists of color in order to make our collection more representative of the real story of American life as experienced by all our citizens.
We know we have just begun this journey. We know the first step is to stop and listen to the experience and wisdom of BIPOC communities for guidance about the museum’s role in fighting this racist plague. Then we must act with resolve to change how and what we do, to actively use our platform to fight for equity for all. We commit to:
• Immediately organizing listening sessions that center the voices of BIPOC artists and provide actionable guidance for what the M will do going forward.
• Acquiring artwork by BIPOC artists as the centerpiece of our new collecting plan.
• Paying teachers and artists of color—and interns—equitable wages, according to WAGE certified standards.
• Actively recruiting and hiring more people of color onto the museum’s staff—in all positions from entry-level to leadership—into our program planning and initiatives, and into the boardroom of the M.
• Issuing a formal Equity Action Plan within the next 6 months, driven by the wisdom of the museum’s equity and inclusion committee, consisting of potent diverse voices from our board and community, with actions that will hold the museum and its leadership accountable to change and fighting racial injustice.
Throughout it all, I pledge to walk with our dedicated staff, passionate board, and diverse partners and neighbors to do the hard work necessary to make these changes in our museum and in our community. We will make mistakes, and the process will be undoubtedly messy. Our lives must not be the same as they were before, and museums such as the M must commit to embodying this change in word and deed.
With hope, love, and intent,
The M’s Equity and Inclusion Statement
Adopted September 25, 2019
Minnesota Museum of American Art (the M) seeks to explore expansively American identities through art, recognizing that the lived experiences and creativity of many artists, cultures, and communities have been historically, and presently are, underrepresented by museums. In order to do this, we will directly address issues of inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility, and race in how we hire, develop exhibitions and programs, enter into relationships, create opportunities, eliminate barriers to participation, and authentically live our mission and values.
We are committed to advancing the richness of differences and the equitable inclusion of them. We recognize that this work is constant, ongoing, and will evolve over time.
Authors: Minnesota Museum of American Art’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) Committee, with contributions from the inaugural IDEA Committee and its Co-Chairs, Robin Hickman-Winfield and KaYing Yang. The IDEA Committee was established in July 2017.
• Community members: Gordon Coons, Robin Hickman-Winfield (former Co-Chair and M Trustee), Tommy Sar
• M staff: Ken Kornack, Kristin Makholm, Wallace Rice, Rosa Rybeck-Smith
• M trustees: Brenda Child, Bruce Corrie, Nathan Johnson, Michael Sammler-Jones