The Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth will foreground Diversity Equity Accessibility Inclusion (DEAI) initiatives within our mission and strategy. While the museum has always been committed to DEAI, this has been a tacit commitment. In order to hold ourselves accountable for this work in more concrete and meaningful ways, we will explicitly articulate DEAI initiatives in our upcoming strategic plan for 2022. Until then, the following action steps provide a roadmap to completing this work across all departments and facets of our work at the museum. These areas include:
Audience & Community Engagement
The Hood Museum will self-evaluate and seek external facilitators in order to build our capacity to carry out the museum's mission and DEAI initiatives.
Provide ongoing training and informal opportunities for staff and volunteer docents
- Initiate DEAI trainings and workshops within the next year as paid time for staff.
- Require managers and senior leadership to participate in DEAI trainings, including specific trainings around personnel and management.
- Evaluate areas for improvement after trainings and workshops to ensure best practices are adopted into the culture of the museum.
- Establish a budget line item for external trainings and facilitated workshops.
- Expand informal opportunities for staff and docents to engage in conversations around DEAI issues.
- Previously established Social Justice Reading Group will continue bi-weekly meetings and expand to include invited speakers and moderators. Although meetings take place over the lunch hour, staff participation will be paid time.
Immediately establish a staff committee focused on DEAI initiatives—DEAI Working Group
- The committee chair—a rotating position—will be a staff member who reports to the museum director, ensuring a direct line of communication between the DEAI Working Group and museum leadership.
- DEAI Working Group will be listed as part of staff participants' Hood Museum job descriptions, and participants will be given the time, support, and resources necessary to do this work.
- DEAI Working Group will include representatives from a wide range of departments, from Academic Programming, Administration, Curatorial, Digital, Education, Exhibitions, and External Relations to Registration and Preparation.
- DEAI Working Group will establish annual goals that all Hood Museum staff will work toward completing.
- DEAI Working Group will create resources for Hood Museum staff, such as a guide to allyship, templates for accessible presentations, and strategies for engaging in difficult conversations.
- DEAI Working Group will conduct an initial review of Hood Museum style guide and make updates on a rolling basis.
- DEAI Working Group will rethink the bureaucratic systems of the museum and create a clear, deliberate process to be more responsive, rather than reactive, in addressing critical current events in a timely, responsible manner.
Establish a process for measuring our progress on these initiatives
- Conduct initial audit and reviews at yearly intervals by Hood Museum staff in consultation with DEAI Working Group.
- Publish DEAI reviews and audits in the Hood Museum annual report.
Look critically at our culture and practice, both internal and external
- This is perhaps the most ambiguous and intangible objective, but one that is crucial.
- Prioritize assessment of our internal structures, asking questions such as:
- Are we committing microaggressions? Who is taking on the extra labor to educate fellow staff members? Is our environment truly welcoming, and if not, why, and how can we make it so?
- How can we ensure that we're not upholding or perpetuating a white supremacist culture in the workplace or in our outward-facing work?
- How can we critically evaluate DEAI systems in order to measure their impact and to ensure that they will continue?
- Articulate a system for addressing complaints within the Hood Museum and larger Dartmouth HR structures.
- Implement 360-degree review process where supervisees have an opportunity to assess their supervisors in annual review.
- Increase interdepartmental collaboration and equity in decision making and reflection processes around Hood Museum projects.
Audience & Community Engagement
Meaningful community engagement from diverse audiences is at the core of our practice. As we pursue DEAI work internally, we will also implement these practices within our outward-facing work.
Refocus our teaching and programming
- Ensure that work by Black, Indigenous, peoples of color, and others from diverse backgrounds continues to be addressed in our resources for unfacilitated viewing experiences both in the galleries (e.g., Closer Look brochures, Family Guides) and on our website.
- Ensure that work by Black, Indigenous, peoples of color, and others from diverse backgrounds is used in our community and college teaching and co-curricular programming in the galleries and in the Bernstein Center for Object Study.
- Expand and support more student-led and community-led programming. Dartmouth's student population is global, and while this population is reflected in our current collecting and exhibition practices, our community programming is largely led or initiated by the museum. We will prioritize student-led and community-led programming and events that focus on DEAI-related initiatives.
- Strengthen and initiate relationships with community and campus partners already engaged in working with DEAI issues and serving underrepresented communities.
- Continue to deepen existing academic collaborations while also cultivating relationships with new academic partners from departments and programs across campus.
- Co-sponsor, promote, and financially support student-led programs, particularly those hosted by student groups from underrepresented communities.
Continually evaluate programming needs and effectiveness
- Conduct post-program evaluations to ascertain success in meeting stated program objectives.
- Convene focus groups to better understand campus and community programming needs in this area.
- Focus groups will inform future projects and initiatives as well as evaluate recent projects.
- Compensate participants for this labor.
- Establish mechanisms for input, feedback, and critique.
- How can we invite critical conversations around our exhibitions through programming, our website, and social media? How do we mediate these conversations in productive and meaningful ways?
- Create space for these conversations and pathways to address audience concerns, ensuring that Hood Museum staff is aware of and involved with these conversations.
- If we make a mistake, how can we be transparent in our acknowledgment, learning, and growth?
- Provide guidance and training for visitor guide staff and docents to address critique and concern.
The Hood Museum will ensure the diversity of our exhibition schedule and practice.
Assess and adapt exhibitions content
- Critically reflect on our past exhibition schedules. What stories do they tell? What can we do better?
- Review audience evaluations and community feedback and respond accordingly.
- Engage in purposeful reflection on our past exhibitions regarding what worked well and facilitated important conversations about DEAI issues.
- Continuously ensure that work by Black, Indigenous, persons of color, and others from diverse backgrounds is on view and featured prominently.
- Proactively seek input and feedback from our audiences and community on future exhibition projects.
- Compensate participants for this labor.
Reflect DEAI commitments through scheduling
- Develop an exhibition schedule and related programming that promotes antiracism, intersectionality, and equity.
- Continue to include commitments to DEAI in our exhibition proposal review process.
- Routinely review the schedule to ensure our internal DEAI commitment is reflected in what is on view at any one time.
- Be proactive, rather than reactive, about addressing concerns or complexities.
- Establish processes for making changes to exhibition schedule in light of current events or other concerns.
Re-evaluation of our collecting, deaccessioning, stewardship, and repatriating practices is essential. The Hood Museum staff will critically examine the history of colonial museum collecting practices, as well as why and how we maintain and build those collections today. This work will be at the center of the 2022 strategic plan.
Develop a collecting priorities document
- Compose a collecting priorities document collaboratively (across curatorial areas) in order to decolonize the museum's collecting practices and ensure that curatorial departments maintain transparency and accountability.
Implement Indigenous collections management policies where appropriate
Repatriate human remains and stolen objects
- Go beyond what is mandated by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act through proactive consultation and repatriation of culturally unidentifiable human remains in the Hood Museum collections.
- Evaluate and prioritize potential deaccessions with an eye to repatriating work to nations and communities from where it was taken, often without permission. Upon evaluation, conduct research and take necessary steps to move toward deaccessioning and repatriation.
We must reevaluate our data management (cataloguing) and the way it is reflected to the public. The museum has already taken steps to address this via a Mellon-funded grant that will bring on staff to critically reassess our Indigenous North American cataloging practices and associated cataloging technology. This is just a beginning. With an expansive global collection, we must also consider how we organize and present other areas of our practice. We cannot perpetuate a system that privileges white European and Anglo-American ideals. Further, we will articulate this priority in our strategic plan and incorporate this in our updated mission statement.
- Consider why we are cataloging, who is cataloging, and for whom.
- Expand subject terminology and tagging, utilizing guiding principles promoted by groups such as Feminist Manifest-no, the Global Indigenous Data Alliance, and Traditional Knowledge Labels.
- Implement a long-term, flexible plan for continuing this work beyond current Hood Museum staff.
- Join linked data communities through organizations and platforms such as Reciprocal Research Network, Mukurtu, and Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures.
Reevaluate our digital presentation to ensure accessibility and accessible design will be foregrounded in any digital efforts going forward. "Accessibility" encompasses technical/technological access to content, physical and intellectual access, and information regarding museum procedure. We will embrace and represent different ways of knowing.
- Ensure ADA compliance throughout all work products and content releases. When working with Dartmouth IT and Research Computing or an external vendor, ADA compliance will be part of the proposal process, ensuring that all bids and future software builds are ADA compliant. The museum will not engage vendors who are unable to incorporate accessible design.
- When offering media to download or stream, provide alternatives that can be accessed with low-bandwidth internet connections.
- Ensure internal accessibility first. Using the guiding principle that accessibility starts from within, the museum will not release a product or content that has not first been vetted by staff.
The Hood Museum will critically examine our hiring practices with the goal of attracting, supporting, and retaining workers from underrepresented communities. Our constituency is global, yet our staff does not reflect this.
- Review and reframe phrases such as "minimum qualifications" to counter discriminatory practices.
- In job postings, emphasize "commensurate experience." Ensure search committees and interviewers take seriously the lived experiences of all candidates.
- Continue to engage in conversations with Dartmouth HR around periodic reviews of staff workloads and responsibilities.
- Advocate for more equitable salaries for staff in comparison to other divisions at Dartmouth.
- Provide professional development opportunities and build in support structures, especially for entry-level and early-career positions.
- Allocate funds for each staff member to participate in at least one conference, workshop, or outside training each year.
- Look for opportunities for cohorts to present or attend conferences together.
- Provide staff training on Dartmouth resources for professional development and funding.
- Continue to work with external collaborators with expertise in areas of the collection not represented in our curatorial department while ensuring that we diversify the curators and scholars with whom we work.
- Bring in external expertise to work with traditional African and Oceanic collections, particularly Papua New Guinea, as well as the European collection.
- Seek out catalogue contributors from diverse backgrounds and different stages in their careers.
- Expect outside scholars advising on our collections to provide diverse historical perspectives and engage in topics such as diaspora, decolonization, Indigeneity, antiracism, and intersectional feminism.
- Compensate outside scholars, catalogue contributors, and area experts accordingly.
Hire additional interns with focus on DEAI initiatives and community collaborations
- Ask students working on DEAI projects not to "fix" our problems, but to provide opportunities and programming for the Hood Museum to engage with diverse communities on and off campus.
- Provided students with the infrastructural support required to succeed in their roles as interns.