On May 26th through 29th, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) held its annual conference in Washington, D.C., with the topical and timeless theme: Power, Influence, and Responsibility. With a focus on how museums in the United States and around the world can “use their power to advance society and how they can better address the issue of social inequality,” it offered the opportunity for important conversations; AAM Fellow Seph Rodney started some, and observed others.

By Seph Rodney at Hyperallergic:

We have only just begun to see the pendulum of representation swing, and as Sarah Pharaon, a senior director at the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, said during her keynote speech at the PRAM lunch (the PR and marketing group event), it may need to swing far in the opposite direction before we can achieve equilibrium. Ultimately, we all benefit from this movement. When we diversify museum staffs, audiences, and boards, we allow more stories to be told, more voices to be heard, and more enriching experiences to be had, because these are not just our stories — the museum should be a place of discovery rather than merely affirmation of who we are. A museum that only displays and caters to one kind of aesthetic is woefully incomplete. As Aletheia Wittman of the Incluseum project said, that group’s aim is no less than to make the museumbetter. There is much work to be done on that front, and part of that work is convincing long-standing museum professionals and organizations that it needs doing at all.

 

This story was originally published on June 3rd, 2016.