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Employees at the Jewish Museum called for greater diversity and transparency in an open letter.

Daria Simone Harper
Jun 18, 2020 4:13PM, via The Art Newspaper

The Jewish Museum. Image via Flickr.

At least 28 employees at New York’s Jewish Museum have issued an open letter addressed to museum director Claudia Gould calling for more diversity within the institution. Several anonymous staff members have stated that there is one person of color on staff at the Jewish Museum, and none in higher roles. The matter reached a tipping point after the issue was raised during a Zoom meeting with museum staff and upper management.

According to The Art Newspaper, the letter reads:

We ask you to listen as we say that we are disappointed by the Museum’s internal and external statements, and frustrated by the opacity of the process, which did not reflect any opportunity for open dialogue with our Museum staff.

The staff members asked the museum administration and the board to outline a plan to incorporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) throughout the workplace and for responsibility in hiring and retaining more diverse staff. The letter also noted that recent staff layoffs and furloughs “have disproportionately affected Black, Indigenous, People of Color on staff.” Employees also said they felt that their calls for change within the museum had not been adequately addressed.

The Jewish Museum has since responded, saying that 38 (34.5 percent) of its 110 staff members do not self-identify as white. It also said that three people of color hold roles as division or department directors. The museum has developed an anti-racist working group of staff members, and at a meeting this week, the board of trustees committed to completing Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) training, and establishing a DEAI taskforce within the Board to operate in tandem with the staff-led anti-racism working group.

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Daria Simone Harper