Wednesday, September 8, 2010

On the Association of Art Museum Directors

Courtesy ARTnews, Sept. 2010

I cannot help but comment on a photograph published on p. 50 of this month's edition of the venerable ARTnews magazine. It shows a group of men and women standing behind a guy on the driving seat of a really snazzy formula-1 car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. My first impulse was to think that it is another stunt by Glenn Beck and his gang of tea-party jingoists motivated not so much by the crocodile-tear anger at the Obama Administration's handling of the economy as by fear of losing some power in the ongoing, ineluctable, demographic transformation of the United States of America. Don't get me wrong. The museum directors group do not, by any stretch of the imagination compare, in their practices and pronouncement with the incredible racism behind the Tea Party/Beck rhetoric. Moreover, the AAMD is now consciously even-if-belatedly working to remake itself by seeking greater "openness in changing the organization in its membership to respond to a changing world," according to one of its leading members. But it is impossible to not say something about how white the organization currently is, and looks. This is all the more reason to wonder why the art world, in spite of its supposedly progressive self-regard, is always the very last to actually effect meaningful change to acknowledge the gains America has made in letting its non-white populations gain access to real and symbolic seats of power. If the NFL, MLB and NBA have diversified team managerial cadres (at least a little bit), the AAMD sure can. Or are they waiting for the Hockey League? The AAMD sure can show it means business about change; and it can do that by actively working to add more color--and I don't mean using saturated photo inks, or bringing along the museum security personnel!--to the next group photo. I happen to know quite a few of the members of the group, and that they are very decent people. But it is often easier to take the status quo as acceptable. I suggest that each member of the Association should take a second look at their very nice group photo; perhaps the urgency of the problem of lack of racial diversity should be all too obvious.

No comments: