The Indianapolis Museum of Art in Newfields has apologized for a job advertisement seeking a new director to entertain the museum’s “traditional core white art audience”.
The wording was a bullet point in a six-page job description that also stated that the museum was working to attract a more diverse audience. Museum officials removed the word “white” the weekend after the outrage, including from guest curators at an exhibition on a mural of Black Lives Matter in Indianapolis.
Museum director and executive director Charles Venable said the decision to use “white” was intentional to show that the museum would not leave its existing audience as it works for more diversity.
“I think the fact that you can read that one sentence and now read it as a single sentence or clause I can certainly understand and regret that it could be understood that way,” he told The Indianapolis Star. “It was certainly not the intention at all.”
Still, Malina Simone Jeffers and Alan Bacon, guest curators for an upcoming exhibition titled “DRIP: Indy’s # BlackLivesMatter Street Mural,” said Saturday that they would opt out of publication and asked the museum to apologize to other black artists . You run GANGGANG, an Indianapolis-based art incubator for color artists.
Another critic was Kelli Morgan, a former associate curator for Black who was hired to diversify galleries but stepped down over the summer, citing a toxic and discriminatory work environment. She said the wording gave a false sense that raising art by African or indigenous artists would somehow exclude white people and that words like “traditional” and “core” also stand for white.
“The entire job description is full of diversity languages, but it is completely independent of what that language actually means because if you’ve been invested, if you care about it, right, if you are familiar with all of this DEI (Diversity (Justice and Inclusion) that you got up and through that job description that sentence would never have been there, “Morgan told the newspaper. “You can’t do both.”
The position description, which was first published in January by a non-profit search company with entries from around the world, now reads “traditional core art audience”.
Newfields is the 150 acre campus of the Indianapolis Museum, which includes gardens and an art and nature park.