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Update on the Gardiner Museum’s equity work: Spring 2021

2 years ago

Dear Gardiner Community,

I am writing to update you on our anti-oppression, anti-racism, and equity work at the Museum. We began these updates in June 2020 and plan to continue them regularly to stay accountable to our aspirations and expressions of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Here is an overview of some of the actions we have taken since our last update in September 2020:

  • Equity Task Force: Equity, Anti-oppression, Liberation and Meaningful Inclusion Educator & Consultant Rania El Mugammar is leading the formation of an Equity Task Force that will begin its work this spring. It will include staff, board members, and community representation, and focus on structural issues at the Museum.
  • Strategic Plan: We are finalizing our 2021-2023 Strategic Plan with anti-oppression, anti-racism, and equity at its core, impacting all aspects of Museum activity. The Strategic Plan was undertaken with extensive internal and external community consultation, and we anticipate circulating it publicly in June 2021. A draft version is posted on our website and we welcome your comments.
  • Virtual Programming: Over the past year, we have intentionally focused our digital programming on Black, Indigenous, and artists and communities of colour through live virtual events, as well as an online presentation of our Community Arts Space project, presented by TD Bank Group.
  • Gardiner Goes Outside: Looking ahead to in-person programming this summer, we are planning to move our activities outside onto the Linda Frum and Howard Sokolowski Plaza to increase visibility, transparency, and access for diverse communities across the city. Museum admission and all programming will be offered free to the public.
  • Collections Management Policy: We have updated our collecting policy to commit to diversifying our permanent collection, particularly in the area of Modern and Contemporary Ceramics.
  • Recent Acquisitions: We are proud to have acquired or approved as promised gifts extraordinary new works by Black, Indigenous, and artists of colour, including Eddy Firmin, Julie Moon, Nadia Myre, and Linda Sormin, exemplifying the compelling artists who are working in clay today.
  • Public Art Commission: We are commissioning a new permanent public artwork to honour the ongoing Indigenous presence on Turtle Island. As part of the ArtworxTO Year of Public Art, the Museum released a Call for Expressions of Interest shaped by an Advisory Group chaired by Board Member Kent Monkman and comprised of local Indigenous community members. The committee selected finalists Ludovic Boney, Nadia Myre, and Santee Smith. A winner will be announced in spring 2021 and the work will be installed in 2022.
  • Historical Collections: New gallery interpretation text now explicitly connects eighteenth-century porcelain to European colonialism. Additional projects are also underway that will widen this discussion in the galleries.
  • African Ceramics: As we seek to diversify the voices at the Museum, we are currently developing a display of African ceramics from our collection to be presented in the Modern and Contemporary Gallery.
  • Exhibition Development: We are actively developing exhibition projects that center non-white voices. We will announce these projects as they become confirmed in our schedule.

In addition to these actions, it’s important to communicate a significant shift in our internal conversations at the Museum. Anti-racism, anti-oppression, and equity work is central to discussions among staff, board members, external colleagues, and community partners as we work to recognize and acknowledge our blinders and biases. Talking is not our end goal, but regularly doing so reinforces the centrality of this work. Understanding the full scope of our roles and seeing our working relationships as opportunities for repairing the world lays a stronger foundation for building equity.

Sequoia Miller, PhD
Chief Curator & Deputy Director

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