While the Lucas Museum is fairly unique in its ability to proactively build diversity into its foundations from the onset, its leaders adamantly insist that this does not make them exceptional. “I believe it’s all about intentionality,” said Jackson-Dumont. “There are some great leaders at big and established institutions that have charted a course and are coming from a place of nimbleness and are changing the practice. Meanwhile, there are plenty of smaller institutions trying to mimic more established institutions and take on some of those same behaviors. In our case, we’re trying to learn from all of it.”Tompkins Rivas concurred. “These kinds of principles of centralizing a commitment to diversity are things all museums can take steps towards,” she said. “It’s just a matter of prioritizing them within the work that you do.”
The recent waves of Black Lives Matter protests have made abundantly clear that museums need to adapt to keep pace with the communities they serve. “If you’re not a diverse, inclusive, and anti-racist institution, you are going to be faced with a level of irrelevance that is going to be problematic,” said Jackson-Dumont. “I think it’s beautiful that museums are really confronting this.”
Though art institutions as a whole have a long way to go when it comes to reflecting equity at the top, recent actions, conversations, and initiatives have inspired hope that they’re slowly moving toward those goals. “Many organizations are in different phases,” explained Arts Consulting Group’s Lynch-McWhite. “When we used to ask about equity statements and policies, many organizations hadn’t done that work. That’s not so much the case moving forward. It’s an evolution.”
By utilizing its blank slate to proactively adopt principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, in many ways the Lucas Museum represents a new hope for art institutions, embodying all the anti-racist learnings of recent years.