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Update on the Gardiner Museum’s equity work: Fall 2020

1 year ago

Dear Gardiner Community,

As we promised in June, we are now writing to update you on our ongoing work of building greater equity at the Gardiner Museum.

One of our first steps was to reach out to community organizations that have recently worked with us to understand how we can improve as an institution to better meet their needs and make their publics feel welcome at the Gardiner. These consultations are serving as the basis of our upcoming three-year Strategic Plan, which will have equity and anti-racism as one of its cornerstones. Through these conversations, we have received important feedback from a diversity of voices that is changing how we approach the work of the Museum.

We are revising our staff hiring and board recruitment processes. These changes have already had an impact, helping us get closer to our goal of having the Gardiner staff and board reflect the diverse makeup of the GTA. We are actively recruiting new board members from our partner organizations to ensure greater community representation. We continue to implement the recommendations of Equity, Anti-oppression, Liberation and Meaningful Inclusion Educator & Consultant, Rania El Mugammar, regarding internal procedures, and look forward to her greater input in the coming months.

We recently launched new Community Building Weekends, which include free admission for everyone on Saturdays and Sundays through the end of 2020, as well as focused outreach and programs for individual communities. We aim to build stronger relationships and learn how we can be a better community partner.

In our galleries, interpretation of our historical collections is shifting to include issues of race, representation, and colonialism. We have signaled that this change is underway by installing signage at the entrance to the galleries on the first and second floors that acknowledges where these gaps exist. We anticipate new text in the European Porcelain Galleries in the next few months, with other areas to follow.

We are forming a working group with museum workers internationally to develop more inclusive approaches to interpreting European ceramics. We are reviewing our Ancient Americas collection to better understand how it came to the Museum and how its presentation could incorporate additional perspectives. Acquisitions are on hold as we review strategies for diversifying the permanent collection, including a review of our collections and exhibitions policies.

We are developing a series of digital programs that consider institutional structures of racism, exclusion, and privilege framed by our upcoming exhibition by artist Shary Boyle that engages with these themes. These will take place through the coming months and build off of our concurrent Community Arts Space presentation, on view in the Exhibition Hall from November 28 to January 3.

The steps outlined here are initial and ongoing, with more updates to follow. While the financial challenges we face right now are significant, we reaffirm our commitment to building greater equity and believe that dismantling structural racism is the single most important way to ensure the long-term vitality of the Gardiner.

Kelvin Browne, Executive Director & CEO
Sequoia Miller, PhD, Chief Curator

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