Indianapolis Museum of Art in Hot Water Over Job Posting

Director apologizes for ad that called for someone to maintain 'white' audience
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2021 3:00 AM CST
Indianapolis Museum of Art in Hot Water Over Job Posting
Visitors looks at the paintings on display in the exhibit "Sacred Spain" at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009.   (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

The Indianapolis Museum of Art is looking for a new director. And in a regrettable job posting, it said that person would be working to maintain the museum's "traditional, core, white art audience" while also attempting to attract a more diverse audience, the New York Times reports. Now, not surprisingly, the museum is apologizing. The current director and chief executive, Charles L. Venable, says the ad was meant to explain that while the museum is working toward more equity and inclusion, its existing audience would not be forgotten. However, "if we were writing this again, with all the feedback we’ve gotten, we wouldn’t write it that way," he says. Indeed, the wording has been changed to simply, "traditional core art audience." Newfields, the museum's campus, also apologized in its own statement, WTHR reports.

"This is a six-page job description, not a single bullet point," Venable explains. "We talk a lot about our commitment to diversity in all kinds of ways, from the collections to programming to hiring." He says the ultimate goal is to build the museum's core audience "by welcoming more people in the door," and he regrets that that mission has been overshadowed by the unfortunate word choice. But the Times notes the museum has been in the hot seat for years over an allegedly discriminatory culture, and that it's symbolic of a larger problem. "Newfields is a very visible, very bad symptom of a much larger cancer," says a former employee. "Until the museum world is Black and white and red and purple, and until we deal collectively with the responsibility for discrimination, things like this will continue to happen.” The guest curators for a planned Black Lives Matter exhibit at the museum have pulled out for now, the Indianapolis Star reports. (More Indianapolis stories.)

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