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The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Guggenheim Responds to Staff Charges of Racism with Diversity Plan

New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum has produced and approved a plan aimed at fighting racism within its ranks, becoming one of the country’s first large cultural institutions to do so, reports the New York Times.

The two-year initiative, announced earlier today, outlines measures including the establishment of paid internships for students from underrepresented backgrounds, plans to partner with historically Black colleges to promote job offerings, and the hiring of a top-level manager to oversee diversity strategies. Also encompassed in the initiative are the creation of an industry-wide network for BIPOC (Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color) working in the arts, and the establishment of a committee that will scrutinize the Guggenheim’s exhibitions and acquisitions in relation to equity and diversity.

The plan comes on the heels of staff complaints of entrenched racism at the museum, embodied in a collectively signed letter submitted in June by curatorial staff to leadership accusing the institution of fostering an “inequitable work environment that enables racism, white supremacy and other discriminatory practices” and demanding immediate reform. Following the complaints, the Guggenheim launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the museum’s 2019 Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition and the alleged mistreatment of Chaédria LaBouvier, the independent curator who organized the show. A report is expected this fall.

The eight authors and one outside consultant who wrote the plan, at least four of whom identify as Black, noted that the demographic makeup of the Guggenheim’s attendees does not reflect that of New York and have suggested expanding pay-what-you-wish hours beyond Saturday evenings as a way of remedying this. Additionally, the authoring committee has called for more exhibitions featuring artists from historically marginalized groups, citing the fact that “[w]ithin the iconic space the Rotunda, the museum has never held a solo exhibition of a Black artist, a woman artist of color, an Indigenous artist, or a trans-identified artist.”