Institutions Need to Follow Artists’ Lead to Make a Material Impact on the World

All around us, the twin pandemics of racism and Covid-19 are roiling the American landscape, laying bare its fundamentally uneven ground. Just as massive and righteous protests do the difficult work of forcing the country’s largest institutions to change, they inevitably call cultural institutions into question too. In the case of art museums, discrimination, indifference, and irrelevance are deeply embedded in their history, and too many museums have answered this catalytic moment with quick words and symbolic gestures alone, a flailing, desperate response that throws into relief the work not done for decades to address inequity and injustice across the fine art world. Those of us who work in museums must take a painfully honest look at all we have been doing wrong and commit to a very different course.

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