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A Letter to the Alaska Museum Community

Thursday, June 11, 2020 10:44 AM | Della Hall (Administrator)

To the Alaska Museum Community,

The start of 2020 has seen enormous challenges for museums because of an ongoing worldwide pandemic. And, in recent weeks we have witnessed our country’s struggles with racism. We know these are extremely difficult times. The uncertainty of museums depends on all of us shifting our mindset and leaning into uncomfortable conversations. As museums across the state begin to reopen, we have an opportunity and responsibility to be brave and stand in solidarity.

Alaska is no different – racism towards the Alaska Native Peoples is alive. The majority of the museums throughout the state steward many Indigenous peoples’ objects and stories. We must recognize and acknowledge the land these museums sit on. Museums are spaces for gathering, learning, and connection. We ask you to join us in collectively stepping up and leading within our institutions.

In 2017, the Museums Alaska Board of Directors and staff have prioritized diversity, equity, inclusive, and accessibility work. It is part of our core values and purpose. Museums Alaska has been fortunate to seek out keynote speakers who shape the roles museums can play in fostering racial justice. In 2017, Sean Kelley from Eastern State Penitentiary spoke about going beyond neutrality in museums; In 2019, Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko addressed decolonization in museums calling out systemic racism perpetuated by oppression in our institutions. We know there is still more to do, and we are committed to supporting museums across Alaska in this work.

Museums provide safe and brave platforms to hold space for difficult community conversations. It is a time for museums to look outward and be community-led and to pause and connect to the rich history of Alaska and tell those untold stories. Our mission is to strengthen Alaska’s museums which empowers us to stand in solidarity with each of us and enables us be truth-tellers in our organizations.

We want to hear from you. What are you doing to shift the conversation with your Board of Directors, with your staff, with your strategic partners, members, patrons, funders, and sister museums? How can we effectively share best practices and examples of museums creating unity, equity, and social justice? Below is a list of resources compiled from the 2019 Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion conference held in Kodiak. This list is not comprehensive, and if you have additional resources you would like to see added, please forward to director@museumsalaska.org.

We support you during these difficult and challenging times and commend you for your resilience and commitment to the preservation of culture, history, art, and science. Please stay safe, healthy, and in good spirits.

Sincerely,

Della Hall 
Executive Director       
Museums Alaska 

Monica Garcia-Itchoak
Board President   
Museums Alaska

Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, & Inclusion Resources

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