Appendix L: Rose Art Museum
VisionThe Rose Art Museum is working actively and intentionally to transform the museum into an antiracist institution and a nexus of art, social justice, and communities. Pursuing an uncharted path, we are committed to interrogating our practices and premises, uncovering and critically examining our blind spots and shortcomings, and working to dismantle the colonialist foundations and exploitative legacies of the western museum. We are planning and implementing new inclusive and equitable ways of being and doing museum work.
Amassed over six decades, the Rose Art Museum collection of over 9000 works of art reflects changing trends, values, art historical perspectives, and priorities. Building on the work of prior Rose directors and curators, we are actively diversifying our permanent collection. We are focusing on acquiring work by underrepresented artists, including women and gender-nonconforming artists, artists of color, and artists overlooked by the canon. In addition to robust consultations with the curatorial team and the Rose Collections Committee, we have reached out to artists, scholars, and organizations beyond our milieu in an effort to expand our knowledge and understanding of art.
To dismantle the museum’s colonial legacy, we look closely at items that may have come into the collection inappropriately or unethically. For example, Rose leadership launched conversations with experts regarding Native American artifacts and African masks to determine if and how they might require rehoming.
Exhibitions and Programs
Since its foundation in 1961, the Rose has celebrated the power of the creative imagination, played an integral role in a Brandeisian education, helped constitute meaning through art, and enriched the lives of individuals and communities. A risk-taker, ahead of its time, the Rose initiated innovative exhibitions for emerging artists, launching their careers. The museum remains committed to showcasing young, emerging, and underrepresented artists.
Curating the Rose Art Museum 60th anniversary exhibition – scheduled to open in the Spring of 2021 – provides exceptional opportunities to challenge and dismantle the master-narrative of American Art that privileges white, male, canonical artists. Replacing the linear and exclusive story of art with multiple, alternative narratives will allow us to elevate previously marginalized artists, silenced voices, and invisibilized communities.
Dr. Elyan Jeanine Hill is partnering with the Rose curatorial team as Guest Curator of African and African Diaspora Art to conceptualize and organize the anniversary exhibition. Dr. Hill’s expertise in critical race and feminist theories and her scholarship on African and African Diaspora art, performance, and visual culture are transforming our thinking about how we define and display art, contributing to a multivocal presentation.
Through exhibitions and public programming, we strive to elevate BIPOC voices and amplify social justice issues. We are developing a robust online presence to expand opportunities for communities we are currently unable to reach in person. Many of our programs address the racial reckoning we face today head-on, by focusing on art and artists who deal with related issues in profound ways.
Audiences and CommunitiesTo foster deep and broad engagement across campus, the Rose Campus Council has been constituted and will meet four times a year. Composed of faculty, students, and staff, this multigenerational, multidisciplinary, and diverse group collaborates with the museum to help it become more accessible, open, welcoming, and just.
In parallel, we have begun dialogues with community members and organizations beyond campus to further our commitment to racial justice and to ensure the museum is accessible to all. Among these organizations, we have forged an ongoing and meaningful relationship with the activist collective “Where Are All the Black People At?”
In addition to the work above, which is ongoing, we have engaged with the Brandeis faculty and the administration about Indigenous land rights. We have adopted a land statement that we consider a living document and share it at the start of all public programs.
The Rose Art Museum Board and Staff
Transforming the museum into a diverse and inclusive institution requires a concerted effort to diversify staff and train them in unconscious bias and communication tools. Rose leadership must apply a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) lens to examine and document all our practices with openness and willingness to make meaningful changes. We also apply this lens as we review our governance structure, expand and diversify our Board of Advisors, and put in place equitable policies and practices. We have been employing equitable hiring practices as we bring in new team members. Since July 1, we have been engaged in ongoing DEIA workshops with Dr. Mark Brimhall-Vargas and hold weekly meetings as a team that are devoted exclusively to DEIA issues.
We have created a new position of DEIA Partner and designated Associate Director for Administration and Operations, Anthony DiPietro, to collaborate with the museum director and staff to articulate values and goals, track and report on their implementation, and promote a culture of inclusion and belonging.
To expand the viewpoints we represent, we hope to hire BIPOC professionals to work with us in both staff and contract roles. Working with Brandeis HR and outside sources such as W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy), we ensure that all are compensated equitably, meeting or exceeding the museum field’s standards.