Since its founding in the late 1970s, the Gregg Museum of Art & Design has been committed to promoting the appreciation of art – an essential human pursuit – by attempting to expand the definitions of beauty and purpose, and by broadening the visual landscape of the lives of everyone in the greater NC State community.
The Black Lives Matter movement reveals that more remains to be done to highlight underrepresented and marginalized groups in our exhibitions, programs, and other activities. In the past, we’ve presented dozens of exhibitions by BIPOC artists, and have maintained a permanent changing exhibition of Native American art, but we acknowledge that there is still a need for further change and growth, and that we must take action to widen our view, because doing nothing will get us nowhere.
We know that change takes work and that there will be mistakes. But the Gregg staff is a team of people who care deeply about what they do every day: facilitating visitation, teaching and research, tending the permanent collection, and developing programs that contribute to the communities around us.
The staff of the Gregg believes in giving both a voice and a platform to a broad range of cultures to demonstrate the beauty and meaning they bring to the world. A legacy of inequality and systemic bias cannot be allowed to exist in that same space. We therefore resolve to take significant steps toward strengthening our practices of inclusion, equity, and diversity. We are already looking for new ways to adjust exhibitions, programs, and other offerings so that they will address issues of bias, privilege, inequity, and injustice, including:
- Discovering ways to reach a wider, more diverse audience, and partnering with them to create more meaningful offerings. Market research, surveys, and other sources of data will be employed to accomplish this, as well as consultations with student and community groups.
- Developing lectures, programs and film series that center on issues such as identity, differing beliefs, abilities, experiences, or status.
- Committing to hosting more exhibitions that acknowledge, respect, and celebrate cultural and other differences, both visible and invisible.
- Recruiting a more diverse staff, including student workers and interns. Starting with the Fall 2020 semester, in addition to the usual channels (ePack, referrals, social media), specific organizations have been approached when recruiting, such as the Multicultural Center, the African American Cultural Center, the Women’s Center, and the GLBT Center.
- Devoting financial and scheduling resources to further educating staff on such issues as racism, privilege, and bias. This includes identifying and attending seminars and participating in events and learning opportunities designed to raise awareness in these areas.
- Revising language and terminology in our database and exhibition labels, with input from representatives of various student, community and awareness groups. These groups will be identified in regard to which culture each database entry refers, and on a case-by-case basis for exhibitions as part of the curation process (if label text is not provided by the exhibiting artist, or is being developed by museum staff).
We know that words and promises are not enough; this must be a collaboration and we seek feedback to help us become more aware of what we don’t know. We realize change can’t happen overnight, but by taking these first steps forward, we can make progress. As a museum and as part of an educational institution, we seek to listen, to learn, and to reflect, so that we can have conversations, change perspectives, and build understanding, both internally and externally. By doing so, we hope to achieve a lasting transformation.
—Roger Manley, Director and Curator, Gregg Museum of Art & Design
Links to resources on diversity, equity and inclusion
Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC) EQUITY AND INCLUSION ACTION TEAM