Noticing race and diversity in the museum

Noticing race and diversity in the museum

This summer for me has been a lot of “firsts.” It was the first summer I explored many different corners of Philadelphia, the first time I tried Rita’s, first time working at a large institution like the PMA, first time I taught students in a gallery, and first time I began to think about diversity in an art institute. It was a busy summer to say the least. As an education intern, I worked on three different big projects including leading tours in the galleries to summer camp groups, visiting a local library in Germantown to lead art activities relating to our special exhibit Creative Africa, and working at ArtSplash studio, assisting family audiences with different art projects. This structure really allowed me to see the vast and wide array of programs that the museum runs to reach out to different members in the community. In the midst of these busy weeks, I thought a lot about diversity in the museum.  these are some things I have spent a lot of time observing and thinking about. Prior to starting this internship, I was aware that the art world is pretty white. To my surprise, I saw more diversity than I thought when I started, especially being placed in the education department. However as tour groups came in, I started noticing more interesting racial dynamics. A large portion of the students who came on the tour were of color, whereas most of the authority figures they saw in the museum, their tour guides (the education interns), were white. And often, the artwork these students observed were painted by white European...
define: humanities

define: humanities

        How many times have I had to google the word “humanities” since I’ve been in this internship?     This is not because I doubted the mission or the validity of the programming at the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC). This practice solely reflects a deficiency in myself, and I assume in many others. The humanities? Yeah, I study the humanities. Literature, philosophy, all the good stuff.   Even as I applied to this internship, I thought of the humanities as something you study. While I recognized that the capacity for critical thought is paramount to a society’s success (take this election as the only example you’ll ever need), it is still something that is studied, and then hopefully it informs the way you think, which hopefully informs your actions, which hopefully…. changes something?   It is only during these past few weeks that I have realized this as a framework that existed in my mind, a framework that has proved tricky to break, and has only been broken by my immersion into the ins and outs of PHC’s Civic Engagement programs.     Within these programs, PHC has partnered with the Orton Foundation to use their Heart and Soul model…..  well, basically, PHC uses funding by the National Endowment for the Humanities to work with members of specific cities across Pennsylvania with a model that helps the cities:   In the short-term: determine the subjective attitudes, feelings, and perceptions of the inhabitants towards their community (they gather qualitative data, very systematically); In the long-term: help them implement solutions to address the needs and wants of the...