The president of the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Newfields has resigned after the institution posted a job posting seeking a new director who, according to a report, would maintain the museum’s “traditional white core audience”.
“We apologize. We made mistakes. We let you down,” the museum board said in a statement, the Indianapolis Star reported.
“We are ashamed of the Newfields leadership and of ourselves. We have ignored, excluded and disappointed members of our community and employees. We commit to do better. For those expressing outrage and frustration – we listen, ”she added.
The Board of Trustees and Board of Governors – who posted the statement on Newfields’ website Wednesday – thanked Charles Venable for his service and said his resignation was necessary in order for the museum to meet the needs of the community.
“I cannot speak at the moment,” Venable told the news agency after his resignation, adding that he will not be able to speak in the future.
The CFO Jerry Wise becomes interim president, according to the newspaper.
The controversial phrase was in a bullet point in a six-page job description that also stated that the museum was working to appeal to a more diverse audience.Alamy Stock Photo
A Newfields representative emailed the point of sale that the institution is not currently conducting interviews – and did not answer questions about the terms of Venable’s departure and whether he was responsible for the language of the “traditional, white art audience” listing.
The wording was a bullet point in a six-page job description that also stated that the museum was working to appeal to 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 by Black Lives Matter in Indianapolis.
Venable previously told the Indianapolis Star that the decision to use “white” was intentional to show that the museum would not abandon its existing audience as it worked for more diversity.
“I think the fact that you can read that one sentence and now read it as a single sentence or sentence I can certainly understand and regret that it could be understood that way,” he told the point of sale this week. “That was definitely not the intention.”
Danicia Monét, the organizer and city planner behind an open letter from the community, told the newspaper she was pleased that Newfields was hearing people’s concerns, but said more needed to be done.
The statement by Newfields’ boards of directors on Wednesday listed steps they are taking to show the community that they are listening, including working with an independent committee to review leadership, culture, and boards of directors.
“Newfields is yours and we are committed to making the changes necessary to ensure we win back your trust and respect,” the statement said.