INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The president of the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Newfields resigned Wednesday, days after the institution apologized for posting a job advertisement seeking a new director who would represent the “traditional core white art audience” of the museum would be maintained.
The museum’s board of trustees and board of governors said in a public letter that Charles Venable’s resignation “is necessary for Newfields to become the cultural institution our community needs and deserves.” It was said that CFO Jerry Wise would serve as interim president.
In the job posting, the museum said it was looking for a director to “attract a wider and more diverse audience while preserving the museum’s traditional core white art audience”. The publication sparked letters from a group of Newfields staff and art guides demanding Venable’s resignation.
Venable said the decision to use “white” was intentional to show that the museum would not abandon its existing audience as it worked towards greater diversity. It was a bullet point on the fourth page of the six-page job description.
“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.”
In addition to the resignation, the Boards announced a number of steps that would be taken.
“We will appoint an independent committee to conduct a thorough review of the leadership, culture and own board of trustees and Board of Governors of Newfields with the aim of fully representing our community and its full diversity,” it said.
Newfields will also expand “curatorial representations” of exhibitions and programs by, for and by blacks and Latinos, women, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community and “other marginalized identities,” the letter said.
The museum will also include additional free or discounted days to improve its accessibility, forming an advisory panel composed of artists, activists, and members of color communities “whose primary role is to hold the leadership accountable for these racist goals.” Training for its board members, employees and volunteers.
Newfields is the 150 acre campus of the Indianapolis Museum, which includes gardens and an art and nature park.