Art museums and cultural institutions across the country have been experiencing a racial reckoning in 2020.
Museums in Detroit are far from immune from these conversations.
“I really see the role of the DIA as a role in which the museum can help improve our society and we can do it through the power of art.” — Salvador Salort-Pons, Detroit Institute of Arts
The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit fired its director in July after 70 former employees accused her of creating a toxic workplace that included racial harassment. And a group of current and former Detroit Institute of Arts staff members called for Director Salvador Salort-Pons’ resignation and accused him of ignoring the voices of Black and brown employees.
“We need to listen to all staff members and right now we are conducting a general review of the museum based on these allegations, which have mostly been anonymous,” says Salvador Salort-Pons, director of the DIA.
He says the DIA has hired The Kaleidoscope Group, a Chicago-based diversity and inclusion consultancy, to lead its Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) project. The IDEA project is funded by a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Sciences awarded to the museum in 2019.
Listen: DIA Director Salvador Salort-Pons discusses diversity and inclusions efforts at the museum.
Salvador Salort-Pons is the director of the Detroit Institute of Arts. He says it’s part of an ongoing process to be more inclusive.
“I think there has been a lot that we’ve done and there is a lot that we can continue to do moving forward in terms of including all communities,” Salort-Pons tells Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today, listing diversifying the board to be representative of the tri-county area and the DIA’s paid internship program as two examples.
”What is important is that when the visitors come to the DIA, they see themselves and the communities that they represent reflected in the programs and exhibitions that we do.”
He says it’s critical for museums to recognize their role in telling representative stories, especially ones that reflect the communities they are serving.
“Museums are one of the most trusted places by our society,” he says. “We feel that our collection is the platform from which we can put forward the issues that are at stake in our society, where we can create through the power of art and the presentation of art the necessary dialogue for the community to come in, have the necessary conversations and find solutions. I really see the role of the DIA as a role in which the museum can help improve our society and we can do it through the power of art. This a very important part of our mission.”