National Museum Of African Art Washington Dc

National Museum Of African Art Washington Dc – The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, like all Smithsonian museums, was closed in March due to the pandemic (Jeff Greenberg/World Image Group/Getty Images)

Former staff and board members of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Arts have written a letter accusing the museum of promoting racist culture and saying official reports of racism and aggression have been ignored.

National Museum Of African Art Washington Dc

In a letter sent last week to Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III, an anonymous person said that more than a dozen former and current employees of the Black Museum, dedicated to African art and culture, had experienced “incidents”. , enmity, revenge, ending aggression and degrading speech” lasting at least five years.

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The majority of the museum’s staff is white, with no curators of color, and complaints from black employees about their treatment have been systematically ignored, according to the letter first reported by HuffPost.

Bunch did not respond to a request for comment, but the Smithsonian issued a statement Wednesday in response to the letter emphasizing the museum’s commitment to diversity. The director of the museum “sees the need to recruit, hire and authorize additional curators and artists representing different disciplines and backgrounds,” the statement. “While our collections and exhibits reflect the diversity of artists’ ideas and scholarship, we recognize that we must continue to increase diversity in the museum and promote an inclusive attitude among all Smithsonian employees.”

The youngest branch of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art has 29 employees, including six black and Latino employees, according to Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas. None of the three keepers were black. Thomas.

Three directors have run the museum since 2008 and all are black. Johnnetta Cole, a nationally recognized representative of the diversity of the museum, was the director from 2008 to 2016. He was succeeded by Gus Casely-Hayford, whose two-year term expired earlier this year. Deborah L. Mack was recently appointed as interim director.

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Cole did not comment on that until Wednesday. Casely-Hayford could not be found in London, where she now heads the V&A East Centre, a satellite of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Mack became interim director in March after the museum closed due to the outbreak. Mack, a veteran of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, said the complaints were the result of overworked staff, not racism.

“Some of these issues are related to chronic staffing,” Mack said, noting that the museum had 60 employees in 2000, compared to 29 now. “The museum is too internal. It cannot maintain a 21st museum system.”

Some employees work in two and three positions, Mack said, and he is hiring for 14 open positions, which should help increase the diversity of the workforce.

“I don’t like the fact that at the moment there are no black or African people. And just being black is not enough. In this area, we are complex and international. “It is our job to have that representation over the workers.”

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Milton Jackson, a former lecturer at the Museum of African Art, told the New York Times that he was one of five people who signed the letter. Jackson filed a formal discrimination complaint against the museum in 2016.

The letter proposed seven recommendations, including the removal of Christine Mullen Kreamer, deputy director and chief custodian, a veteran described by the author as favoring white workers and threatening and harassing their black colleagues. Creamer responded to a request for comment by referring reporters to the Smithsonian Press.

The authors also call for a break in Kreamer’s position and the museum to examine exclusions and racial claims. They want the creation of a black worker compensation plan and a public commitment to improving workforce diversity and career advancement for black workers. African Art will host a 10-day art experience titled “Demonstrata” at Constitution Hill on September 15-24. “Demonstrata”, part of the NMAFA+ museum series, will include exhibitions, public lectures and guided tours of the city’s artists.

Organized by Johannesburg-based artist Wa Mgoboza, the exhibition experience will focus on the theme of our one future: rethinking our national future in line with the Smithsonian Comprehensive Initiative to address racial inequality and inequality.Racism in the United States. And general.

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Starting on September 15, the public is invited to participate in an exhibition that deserves the support and promotion of South African artists, whose work pushes boundaries and sparks important discussions. Featured artists include Blesng Ngobeni, Patrick Bogoy, Luke Radolff, Neliwe Xaba & Mocke Jansen van Veuren and Ayana V. Jackson.

“We believe in art as an important tool for dialogue and changing thinking,” said Ngaire Blankenberg, director of the National Museum of African Art in South Africa. “Wa Mgoboza has brought together great artists to challenge us to confront the pervasive and pervasive racial problem in American and South African society. At NMAfA, we are re-imagining museums to help create a sustainable art ecosystem across Africa, and the NMAfA+ experience is just the first step in this journey.

As an experiential showcase, the National Museum of African Art has partnered with the Moleskine Foundation for an intensive five-day AtWork workshop for young people in creative leadership and personal development. Led by the renowned Mon Njami, this workshop brings together young startups to think for themselves about what motivates them and their personal stories.

“Our mission is to unlock the creative potential of young people around the world to transform themselves and the communities around them,” said Adama Sanneh, CEO and founder of the Moleskine Foundation. “We are happy to work with NMAfA and Constitutional Hill, where we share the same vision of change in social change. Our educational method ‘AtWork’, which was first held in Johannesburg, helped to drive the discussion and key discussions recently and this is a small space for creativity.

Smithsonian National Museum Of African Art — Todd Henson Photography

It is unfortunate that the experience will take place on Constitution Hill, a place that symbolizes the heritage of art and justice. It is a space that uses the legacy of the past to inspire the future through its Innovation Center and year-round programs in justice, society, human rights and constitutional education.

“Constitution Hill is built on the core pillars of art and justice,” said Dawn Robertson, executive director of Constitutional Hill. “This initiative by the Smithsonian for social change is fully aligned with our efforts at Constitution Hill to promote positive social change and build an equal future for all. It gives us the opportunity to facilitate discussions about the complexities of race and social justice, while encouraging and empowering the voices of young people through public programs, which we will organize in conjunction with exhibitions and workshops.

The Smithsonian is a multidisciplinary museum and research institution in Washington, DC dedicated to the growth and dissemination of knowledge. The National Museum of African Art is part of the Smithsonian’s mission to be the 21st Century World Museum of African Art. Most of the museum’s visual art collection spans the entire continent from the 10th century to the present. As part of the ongoing and dynamic renewal, the museum now also offers active and collaborative art experiences in places across Africa and around the world to nurture and sustain the art ecosystem.

NMAFA+ is a pan-African immersive art experience series produced by the National Museum of African Art. These pop-up art events enable African audiences to experience the “Year of the Smithsonian” by encouraging cultural participation, creativity, solidarity building and learning.

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Constitution Hill is a vibrant museum and heritage site that tells the story of South Africa’s journey towards democracy. Te is a former prison and military barracks that witnessed South Africa’s hard times and is now home to the country’s Constitutional Court, which protects the rights of all citizens and hosts a permanent collection of over 400 works of art. It reflects the themes of justice, human rights and reconciliation. With four museums, pop-up exhibitions, public events and a rapid response system, the museum is also the location of the Creative Uprising Hub and South Africa’s most unique human rights event.

The Moleskine Foundation is a non-profit organization that aims to inspire a new generation of thinkers and creators who can make a difference in their communities and beyond. Some of the core strengths of the foundation include its pioneering approach, lean brand architecture, established brand, and creative mission for social change. The Foundation has implemented 20 chapters of its AtWork program, starting in Dakar and including Abidjan, Kampala, Cairo, Addis Ababa, New York, London and Maputo.

Johannesburg is the cultural and economic capital of Africa and FNB Art Joburg is its premier art fair. Art Joburg believes there is no better place than Johannesburg to showcase all of its best artists under one roof. Because

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