This blog is the place to exchange ideas, news, issues and thoughts about diversity and multiculturalism in museums. The Multicultural Initiatives Committee is a Texas Association of Museums Affinity Group.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Another Conference Opportunity You Shouldn't Miss!

Here is a conference that focuses on everything that we are concerned with. It touts itself as the nation's leading conference on business initiatives in Diversity and Multiculturalism. Best of all, it is at Walt Disney World!

Monday, 17 March 2008

Wanna Hear What We are All About? Join Us for Breakfast!

The MIC meets formally once a year. This year's meeting will be held on Thursday, March 27th during the TAM annual meeting in Galveston. This is a rather informal group, and everyone has a chance to contribute their ideas. If you are the quiet type, you can just come and listen! Best of all, it is all done over a delicious breakfast. You do not need to be a member of the MIC, nor do you have to purchase the breakfast. However, if you would like to sign up for the food, you can do it when you register for the conference. Here is a link to more info,

Friday, 14 March 2008

History through the Eyes of All

As a Mexican woman, working in a living history museum that interprets nineteenth century Texas life, I am very conscious of interpreting history as accurately and inclusively as possible. Because we are all of one ethnicity and culture or another, we all tend to focus on OUR ancestors and their experiences. This makes it daunting- if not impossible- to interpret history without bias. Yet it is a museum's responsibility, as repositories of the public memory and trust, to do this as best as we can.

The solution? Have input from diverse staff, board and community members. Simple, right? Absolutely not. This continues to be very challenging because by and large, minority museum staff and board members are extremely underrepresented. Some informal surveys have confirmed this, and the MIC hopes to do another museums demographics survey this year.

As a result of this under representation in museum staff and board members, some people will not find their history in museums - or worse they may find a stereotype of their culture! But I believe that as more museums strive to be as inclusive as possible and make themselves available as a safe place for dialogue and debate, new audiences will visit museums. From these audiences, many future museum professionals can emerge. And thus, the cycle can finally be broken!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Be Sure to Attend the Following Sessions while at the TAM meeting in Galveston!

Wednesday 8:45 – 10:00 am
Marketing to Spanish Speaking Audiences
This is a topic that will affect every museum in Texas. In less than ten years the Texas Commerce Department predicts more than 50% of Texans will speak Spanish as their primary language. At the same time Texas is blessed with increasing tourism from Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries. This program will address cultural misconceptions and stereotypes, as well as the issues, challenges and opportunities for Texas museums and what they can do to attract and provide meaningful exhibitions and programs for these expanding audiences.

Wednesday 10:30 – 11:45 am
Making Your Message Clear: Multilingual Signage
In our culturally diverse world, it is important to reach every person who comes through our museums' doors. This person may be a tourist from the other side of the world, or a local resident who speaks another language. In order to reach this audience, museum signage and interpretation may need to be in a language other than English. When is it necessary to translate signage? What should be translated? How do you create attractive and effective multilingual signage? How do you ensure that the translation is correct? This session will address these questions and any others you may have about making your museum truly multicultural!

Wednesday 3:45 – 5:00
Inventive Programs to Reach At-Risk Youth
Is your museum interested in using its resources to help at-risk youth make positive lifestyle choices and develop into productive citizens? Join us as we share methods and strategies that enable youth to communicate feelings, share life stories, explore creativity, express imagination, and discover latent talent within, using art, photography, writing, history and drama. Walk away with fresh new ideas to help you develop programs to reach out to this underserved yet critically important population of youth.

Wednesday 3:45 – 5:00
The National Scene: A Conversation with the Directors of IMLS and AAM
Following their general session talks, the heads of IMLS and AMM will sit down and discuss the major issues and challenges facing the U.S. museum field. Moderated by AAM Board member Howard Taylor, this informal discussion will give insight into the national initiatives and trends that affect our museums. It is also your opportunity to let our national leaders know what is happening in your community and the issues that are important to you. Come prepared to engage in this unique conversation with two important museum leaders who are both attending the TAM meeting for the first time.

Thursday 8:45 – 10:00
Does Your Board Reflect the Community You Serve? – Sadly, cancelled.

Thursday 3:00 – 4:15
Crossing Borders; Telling Lives: Fresh Ways to Create Dialog about Immigration in a Museum Context
In the 19th century, Galveston was known as "The Ellis Island of the West." Today, Texas cities still rank in the top ten for immigrant gateways into our nation. Throughout the state, museums and cultural institutions are searching for creative ways to engage their audiences around important issues of immigration--both in the past and present day—by providing a safe place for dialog, discussion, debate and sharing stories. Panelists will describe innovative projects at the Institute of Oral History in El Paso, the Galveston Historical Foundation, and the Texas State History Museum, then ask audience members to share concerns and approaches from their own museums.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Learn More About Us at our TAM booth!

At the TAM meeting, the MIC will have a booth in the exhibit hall. You can pick up information about what we are, what we offer, and what we want to accomplish. Please take a few minutes of your time to drop by our table during your breaks! If you want to volunteer to staff the booth, please email me at

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Congratulations to Scholarship Recipients!

The following people have received Multicultural Initiatives Scholarships to attend the TAM annual meeting in Galveston:

Angelia Hill, Museum Assistant, Red River Historical Museum, Sherman
Sharron Wilkins Conrad, Curator of Education, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, Dallas
Deborah F. Cowman, Director, Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History,
Bryan Veronica Martinez, Education Coordinator, Victoria Regional Museum Association, Victoria

I want to commend the TAM staff and council for their commitment to this scholarship program that has been around for over a decade. Thanks to it, many young, minority professionals (me included) have been able to attend the TAM annual meeting at no or little cost to their respective museums. This is definitely a step in the right direction to diversifying museum staff across the state.

So make sure to look for these up and coming professionals at the annual meeting and make them feel welcome!