Opinion | A Holistic Approach to Diversity at Museums

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To the Editor:

Re “Black Trustees Form Alliance to Diversify Art Museums” (Arts pages, Oct. 10):

Today, many museums and other cultural institutions are grappling with the question of how to diversify their boards. Board diversity is often approached without taking into account the broader diversity of cultural organizations.

But my research on patronage at African-American museums suggests that attracting and retaining Black supporters at “mainstream” cultural institutions will depend on those organizations embracing a comprehensive agenda for change.

For example, during my interviews with Black supporters of African-American museums, it was common for patrons to share that they were attracted to supporting these institutions not only because of their focus on African-American artists, but also because of their outreach to African-American audiences and employment of a diverse staff.

This means that efforts to attract Black supporters to museums cannot be done in isolation. Instead, museums that want to increase board diversity will need to take a hard look at the diversity of their institutions as a whole.

Patricia A. Banks
Northampton, Mass.
The writer is a professor of sociology at Mount Holyoke College and the author of “Diversity and Philanthropy at African American Museums.”

An Autumnal Bank

To the Editor:

I appreciated your suggestions in your Oct. 11 At Home section regarding preparing for the coming winter and capturing the pandemic in a log book.

I have been working on an autumnal bank. Each day, I write on slips of paper autumnal experiences I want to remember as I move through to winter: the beautiful sunrise I saw on a morning walk; a 73-degree day; running into my friend as we both did errands walking through the neighborhood; eating dinner on my back porch and so on.

Collecting these autumnal experiences has itself been a gratifying process, and I am hopeful that as I pull them out of the bank — I am using a small woven basket as the receptacle — I will get to remember all over again how great autumn was, and anticipate how great spring will be, and maybe even appreciate how great winter is, with all its possibilities for coziness.

Sara Bigger

Bar Exam Babies

To the Editor:

Re “She Finished the Bar Exam After Going Into Labor, Stirring Praise and Concern” (Business, Oct. 14):

Brianna Hill’s experience of starting labor during the Illinois bar exam and then delivering a child between sections of the test should not be framed as a heroic event. Nor is it just an illustration of “longstanding issues around when and how a person must take the bar exam — issues that have been amplified by the pandemic.”

What Ms. Hill endured is yet another example of the insane and inhumane conditions imposed on professional women and working mothers in this country. Expecting women to endanger their lives — and potentially, the lives of their children — in the name of professional acclaim is appalling. This should never have happened, and it is an embarrassment to my profession that it did.

Anna C. Crary
The writer is a lawyer.

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