Wednesday 28 August 2019

The discomfort of change: is “white fragility” our main concern?

Image taken from Cyprus Mail.

In a post last year, Nathan “Mudyi” Sentence (Australian Museum) wrote about his involvement in a museum programme for university students discussing the Stolen Generations (the removal of children of aboriginal descent by the Australian government and church missions along the 20th century) and intergenerational trauma. “After the program, one of the students anonymously commented on a feedback form that they felt like they were being reprimanded and made to feel bad for being White. I found this to be an odd response as we were just discussing a reality and an issue that affects many, many First Nations people, but they chose to disengage because it made them uncomfortable. This made me worried that White fragility will always get in the way of settlers engaging with programs that challenge the colonial structures that benefit them. This made me worried that White fragility is more of concern to some people than the truth.”

Tuesday 13 August 2019

A new museum definition

MASP, São Paulo, Brazil (Photo: Maria Vlachou)

“A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.”

The current museum definition of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) serves perfectly those museum professionals who know how to give meaning to expressions such as “at the service of society” and “for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment”. It serves perfectly those museum professionals who not only know how to give meaning to these words, but also how to share this meaning with other citizens, non-specialists, through both their thinking and their practice.

Wednesday 7 August 2019

For us and for our friends

From left to right: poet Odysseas Elytis, composer Manos Hadjidakis, theatre director Karolos Koun, Theatro Technis 1957, rehearsals of Bertolt Brecht's "The Caucasian Chalk Circle"  © Manos Hadjudakis Archive

News that Warren Kanders resigned from Whitney Museum Board left me truly pleased. After months of protests, the owner of Safariland (a company that produces “law enforcement products” – in other words, weapons, including the tear gas used against immigrants at the US border) was forced to leave, as many people felt that making money out of producing weapons and then philanthropically investing that money in culture and the arts is an oxymoron (to say the least).