This week, our conversation in class will focus on diversity in museums. I was fortunate enough to speak with Cordell Reaves at the NYS Parks Department and Chris Taylor at the Minnesota Historical Society, both of whom are involved in increasing diversity at their institutions. Many museums seem to feel that diversity is achieved by having a few programs or an exhibit that showcases objects from a different culture. On the contrary, museums need to be dedicated to bringing in a diverse audience at all times. This should include not only different racial, ethnic, and cultural groups, but also different socioeconomic groups and intellectual interests.
In order to do this, Chris and Cordell both agreed that we need to change the staff at museums. Only by changing the staff to reflect the diverse people in our communities will museums be able to create an environment where these people feel welcome. Many museums use the excuse that there are not enough qualified people from these communities to work at museums. However, museums need to be the ones to cultivate middle and high school students’ interests and show students that it is possible for them to pursue a career in museums. If they are interested in art, history, or other related fields, this is an industry where they can make a difference.
Have you heard of successful outreach programs for middle and high school students? Do you have any ideas for how we can create and implement these programs for students?
– Cyndi Tolosa