The museum field is slowly changing. Institutions are working to become more inclusive of race, class, gender, and ability. One such changing museum is the Delaware Historical Society. Recently, DHS has been revising its programs and renovating its facilities, trying to better reach their community. To learn more about this, I spoke to Katie McDade, Curator of Education at DHS’ Read House and Gardens in New Castle. She provided an insider perspective on the changes at DHS.
One major project at DHS lately is the new Center for African-American Heritage, intended to study and promote African-American history in Delaware. DHS is trying to build a more diverse organization, but the project has been controversial. Like many museums, DHS has been a mostly white institution for most of its history. Some in the community questioned whether DHS was the right organization to run the Center. While it has been striving to be more diverse, it’s a slow process.
Despite these objections Wilmington’s mayor chose DHS to host the Center, and gave it a million-dollar grant for that purpose. That settled the issue of whether DHS would host the center, but the community still doubted whether a mostly white staff could do the project justice. Katie spoke of how DHS is working to prove itself. DHS has formed an advisory committee of community members, trying to bring a more diverse perspective and make sure that they do the Center for African-American Heritage justice.