Change the Museum
The bio on the Instagram page that represents the Change the Museum initiative very clearly states the organization’s intent: “Pressuring U.S. museums to move beyond lip-service proclamations by amplifying tales of unchecked racism.” The account had a hand in the resignation of Gary Garrels, the former head curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In June, a post written by an anonymous commentator accused a figure later determined to be Garrels of saying, “Don’t worry, we will definitely still continue to collect white artists” at the end of a presentation about a group of new acquisitions by artists of color.
The Change the Museum account has continued to post anonymous statements condemning museums for their behavior at a furious clip. No institution, no matter how hallowed, has been spared critique, and for a good reason: At a moment of global reckoning, any and every power structure is being evaluated on whether it should continue to exist. “The Museum of Modern Art is currently acquiring artwork,” one recent Change the Museum post reads. “This, after firing scores of educators this spring as the pandemic shut down all museum operations. . . . The ‘pot’ of money for acquisitions may not legally be transferred to reinstate fired staff or ensure that current staff are not laid off or furloughed, but the Museum seems to have learned nothing in this moment of calls for equity, equality, diversity, and pandemic safety for both staff and visitors.”