'Access' with Seattle Art Museum's Regan Pro


“If your building is totally accessible, or your website is totally accessible, but then, when people come to the space [and] the interactions they’re having with the staff don’t feel welcome, and they’re feeling microaggression’s and they’re feeling bias...then that negates all that work.”

While museums have been investing in access programs for decades, the buzzword is getting new life as it becomes part of conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Regan Pro, the Kayla Skinner Deputy Director for Education & Public Engagement at the Seattle Art Museum, talks about their long-standing dedication to accessibility. We also discuss how to balance the varying needs of accessibility along with diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as how museums can work together to address the many needs of our audiences. 

Plus, trivia and additional commentary!

'Diversity' with Dr. Porchia Moore

Photo by  Zalfa Imani  on  Unsplash

Photo by Zalfa Imani on Unsplash

“Diversity does not speak to racism. It does not speak to structural inequality. It does not speak to all of these societal ills that still play out in these codified ways.”

Think you know what diversity means? Think again. Dr. Porchia Moore - Johns Hopkins University professor, co-creator of the Visitors of Color Project and the Incluseum, and consultant - challenges the very notions of these words. We discuss how museums can try to represent the multiple lived experiences of visitors, how it can be frustrating and surprising to still be needing these conversations, and yet why she also has hope for the future.

We also play a game at the end of the conversation and I include my own reflections!

'Collaboration' with The Morton Arboretum's Carissa Dougherty

"[Collaboration needs] really strong vision from the top about what we’re trying to accomplish together. So it’s not marketing’s goal and curatorial’s goal and development’s goal. It’s our goal that curatorial, marketing, and development are working on, together.”

How do museums move away from “deeply ingrained turfiness” that are part of museum structures and ways of operating? Carissa Dougherty, Head of Knowledge Management at The Morton Arboretum, shares her expertise on how to shift museums into a collaborative mindset.

Plus, additional commentary at the end of our conversation!

'Equity' with Cecile Shellman

Photo by  Cezar Sampaio  on  Unsplash

“In a perfect world we would have equity. We could celebrate and recognize that we all have differences, and are diverse, in how we come to the world and move through our spaces…And if I’m coming to come down from the clouds and be less Polly Anna-ish, I would say that the reason it’s on museums is, you know what, we’re really late. We’re late to this work. There was never a Brown v Board for museums. Educators had to be forced into this in 1954. This is 2019. ”

Cecile Shellman is a Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion (DEAI) consultant to museums. Our conversation focused on what museums can do to prioritize their thinking to create equitable environments. We also discussed why equity is the “it” word right now and the difference between equity and equality.

Plus! I add my own thoughts on our conversation after trivia, so be sure to listen all the way to the end!

'Content' with Smithsonian Lunder Conservation Center's Laura Hoffman

"Content is king. It is what we have in our pockets as museums. [And it’s important] to keep that in mind, that power. But, also think about the audiences and why we still exist and why that content remains powerful.”

Content is still king. It’s what museums put out on social media, it’s the labels on the walls, and it’s the object behind glass. But how can we harness the uniqueness of content in museums to more deeply engage audiences? Laura Hoffman from the Smithsonian Lunder Conservation Center shares her background in managing a diversity of content and how to relate to audiences.

'Immersive' with Brilliant Idea Studio's Seema Rao

Photo courtesy  LACMA .

Photo courtesy LACMA.

“Immersive is a word that feels like something. You get what immersive means, palpably, when you hear that word…we crave magic. We crave experience. We crave things that feel different.”

Seema Rao of Brilliant Idea Studio immerses us in the buzzword ‘immersive.’ You might be surprised at the breadth of her definition, but not at the depth of her thinking around this word. In this conversation we also explore questions such as: How do museums respond to the consumer appetite for immersion? What’s the tension between immersive art and immersive interpretive/educational experiences? And, is immersion worth investing in in the future?

'Inclusion' with Museum Computer Network's Desi Gonzalez

Photo by  Matthew Ansley  on  Unsplash

"This idea that museum attendance is falling and we just can't bring people in...I think that's a myth and something we say to stop ourselves from doing that hard work about how can we make our spaces more inclusive."

Tune in to hear this and more as we try to define inclusion, identify three starting points for museums wanting to create inclusive environments, and explore the disconnect between creating welcoming spaces for museum audiences versus museum staff.