#MASSActionReadingGroup Chapter 1

We will meet on Twitter on Monday, April 29, 12:00-12:30pm EST for our first Tweetchat that will focus on chapter 1 of the MASS Action Toolkit. While it is not required to sign up for the Tweetchat, it is helpful for us to see what kind of interest there is across the field and to continue building our curious community invested in transformation, so if you would like to sign up, please do so here.

Below is a chapter summary to orient you to this week’s content (reposted from Art Museum Teaching).

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Getting Started: What We Need to Change and Why

Written by Adam Patterson, Aletheia Wittman, Chieko Phillips, Gamynne Guillotte, Therese Quinn, Adrianne Russell

This introductory chapter establishes the underlying philosophy behind MASS Action and investigates the question: What does it mean for museums to be “sites of social action?” It calls for the urgency and necessity of museum practitioners throughout the field to sharpen their critical literacy, and their capability to unearth systemic issues such as structural racism and other forms of oppression that are inherently embedded in the institution.

There is a movement spreading across cultural organizations nationally asserting that museums are not neutral spaces. Complex problems related to colonialism, ableism, sexism, racism, and capitalism are all embedded in the institution and manifest themselves in the everyday operations of museums from hiring practices, staffing, organizational culture, management, fundraising, collection policies, to pedagogy, interpretation, and paradigms for engagement.

If museums and their staff claim to be relevant sites for engagement for their communities, this takes on huge responsibilities to not only acknowledge and navigate difficult issues, but to work towards sincere and critical action. The work of MASS Action centers justice, it does not leave it in the margins. There is a real moral imperative to this work as museums move forward collectively to set higher standards of conduct in the field.

Questions to consider as you read:

  • What would cultural transformation look like at your institution?

  • Why should your institution engage in this work?

This week’s downloads and links:

  • Chapter 1

  • Worksheet 1 - Discussion questions to think about before/during/after reading.

  • Facilitation Outline 1 - This was developed by Art Institute of Chicago’s 2017 MASS Action team and is an excellent resource if you would like to facilitate your own discussion.