Monday, November 12, 2007

Ford Bell Responds

A few days ago I was puzzled by the answer given by Ford Bell, the new president of the American Association of Museums, to a question posed to him during an interview. Read all that here.

In response to my question, Mr. Bell emailed me a clarification:


Here is the context for my answer. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough.

Museum attendees, boards, staff, and volunteers do not reflect the diversity of our society. In Minneapolis, where I am from, we have the largest population of Somalis in the United States, the second largest population of Hmong, the largest population of Tibetans, and substantial populations of Hispanics and Native Americans. However, these ethnic and racial groups are substantially (almost completely) underrepresented on museum boards, and are not users of museums. I think it is incumbent on museums in this country to "demystify" museums, to make them less "white", both physically and programmatically, and to reach out to minority communities with creative, and relevant, educational, social and cultural programming. In the increasingly pluralistic society in which we are fortunate to live, museums will struggle if they are unable to reach out to different communities in meaningful ways.

In regard to the question, "Why would someone who has been elected to Congress in 2037 or 2047 have less 'experience' than someone elected in 2007 simply because they are from a different ethnic group?" I would submit that the vast majority of people now serving in Congress have experiences with museums, in fact, have visited museums since childhood. Today, school districts don't have the money for field trips, and school children don't go to museums in many states they way they did when I was a child. Will childhood trips to museums depend now on parents? And if the parents don't speak English, and/or are illegal immigrants and/or work three jobs and/or don't know what a museum is, are they likely to take their child to a museum?

AAM is committed to conveying - to funders, legislators, policymakers - the importance of museums to communities large and small, across the United States. We are committed to carrying the message that museum experiences are important for school children of all ages, and that these experiences contribute significantly to their educational progress and intellectual development. And, we hope to work with museums, our fellow museum service organizations, and museum professionals and educators to help insure that museums are welcoming and relevant to everyone in the community and that they resemble the community at every level - boards, staff and volunteers.

I hope that helps. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify my answer.

Best wishes.




As the first African American museum built by a major American city, the African American Museum in Philadelphia is a pioneering institution that is dedicated to "Celebrating the Life and Contributions of a People." The museum focuses on what is unique about the African American experience, and does so by illustrating the intimate intertwining of one people's heritage, culture, and contributions throughout the fabric of the American experience.

Opening on November 15 and through January 21, 2008, they will host Kimberly Camp's "Stories." Camp’s paintings and dolls are a reflection of family and tradition, and have been shown throughout the United States and abroad in over one hundred prominent solo and group exhibitions.

Camp, a native of Camden, New Jersey, has also pursued a dual career as a museum administrator for the Barnes Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution and the Charles Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.


Open Studios in Arlington

On Saturday, November 17th, from 6:00-9:00 PM, the artists at the Columbia Pike Artist Studios in Arlington, VA will open their studios to the public - there will be art, food, wine, and many fine artists.

Wanna go to a Bethesda opening on Wednesday?

For a couple of years now I have been recommending to collectors that they should acquire art by Amy Lin.

On Wednesday, November 14th, Amy Lin’s "Silence" opens in Bethesda's Heineman-Myers. A reception for the artist will be held from 6 to 9pm and Amy will speak about her work at 7pm. This will be Lin's commercial gallery debut after a couple of highly successful solo art shows in non-profit art spaces around the DC area.

Besides my attention, Amy Lin has received considerable recognition for her work, including a terrific show recently at the District of Columbia Art Center curated by National Gallery of Art's curator Anne Collins Goodyear and a very positive review of her work in the WaPo for her solo at Northern Virginia Community College last year and a very cool profile by the Washington City Paper last December.

And Apple Computer company recently selected Amy’s work for their one-word campaign, which will showcase her work on college campuses across the US. Furthermore, Washingtonian Magazine recently picked Amy in their 2007 “40 under 40 to Watch.”

Silence by Amy Lin

Buy Amy Lin now.