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, 17 December 2009

In brief: Artifacts are sought for Chicano exhibit

El Paso Times Staff

Posted: 12/16/2009 12:00:00 AM MST
Artifacts are sought for Chicano exhibit EL PASO -- Museo Mayachen is looking for fliers, posters, banners, photographs, tickets and other artifacts for a 2010 exhibit of the Chicano Movement in El Paso. The exhibition, scheduled to open Feb. 3, will display personalities, events and issues associated with Chicanos in El Paso. Information: (915)533-9710, (915)532-6205.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Scholarships Available for the TAM Annual Meeting

Multicultural Initiatives Scholarship (MIC):
TAM is offering a limited number of full scholarships for the Annual Meeting to be awarded to minority professionals currently working in Texas museums. Applicants must be early-career and/or new to the Texas museum profession. These scholarships will include meeting registration, one workshop, one luncheon, one breakfast, and an evening event. The scholarship recipient(s) will be responsible for his or her travel, lodging, and incidental costs. Following the meeting the recipient(s) will be asked to write an article for the MIC blog, offering observations on the state of diversity in the museum profession and/or their observations on diversity based on the annual meeting. To apply, send a resume, references, and a one-page letter stating reasons for applying for the scholarship to Deadline for applying is January 29, 2010.

NEW!!!! Multicultural Initiatives Committee GLBT scholarship:
The MIC is offering a $250 scholarship for a GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual) museum professional to attend the 2010 TAM Annual Meeting. Applicants must be early-career and/or have never attended a TAM annual meeting before. Following the meeting, the recipient will be asked to write an article for the MIC blog offering observations about state of GLBT issues within the museum community and/or field. To apply, send a resume, references, and a one page letter stating reasons for applying to Ivette Ray, MIC Chair, to Deadline for applying is January 29, 2010.
**Funds for this scholarship have been generously provided by Wallace Saage.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Diversity Sessions Featured at 2010 TAM Annual Meeting

One of the roles of the MIC is to ensure that adequate attention and time are give to diversity issues at the Texas Association of Museums Annual Meetings. This summer, the MIC submitted four session proposals for the 2010 meeting. I am pleased to announce that two of them have been accepted in their entirety. These are titled "Opening Doors to Inclusiveness" and "Out of the Closet: A Community History Comes to Light." Unfortunately, the other two sessions did not make the cut. Considering that the program committee has the tough task of narrowing the proposals submitted to about half, we are fortunate that half of our submitted sessions were selected.

If you are planning to attend the 2010 TAM Annual Meeting in College Station, be on the lookout for these and other great sessions!

As more details are released about the annual meeting and the sessions, we will update the blog.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Museums take on immigration debate with exhibits

This very intersting article about the role of museums in the immigration debate is from the Chicago Tribune
By SOPHIA TAREEN Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO - With little progress on Immigration reform among lawmakers, the nationwide debate has entered a new space: museums. A network of U.S. museums launched a program Wednesday in Chicago that aims to grapple with tough questions on Immigration, including who should have access to health care, how borders should be controlled, and issues of citizenship and identity. The idea is to get leaders and activists talking to each other in locations connected to history to figure out how to achieve reform, said Liz Sevcenko, director of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. "Part of the reason that there hasn't been a reform bill is that everybody is afraid of opening the debate," she said. "They're afraid of igniting their constituents, so nothing gets done." But the program, which involves 13 museums, isn't dedicated to crafting specific policies or proposals. Organizers say they'll let the public figure out how they want to talk about issues and museums will tailor events to their local communities in the coming months. The museums chose Immigration as a focus because it intersects with other topics and historically has been an issue the U.S. struggles with, Sevcenko said. For instance, the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Mich., which has one of the nation's largest Arab populations, will have classes for college students and an exhibit called "Connecting Communities" in which recent immigrants tell their stories. The Wing Luke Asian Museum in Seattle has an exhibit called "Deporting Cambodians: How Immigration Policy Shapes Our Communities." The discussions and displays will not be focused solely on Immigration. For instance, in Chicago, a city with a rich labor history, events at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum will involve labor leaders. "It's impossible to talk about Immigration without talking about labor or health care," said Lisa Lee, director of the museum dedicated to the writer, social worker and first American woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize. "Before legislation, citizens have to be informed." Organizers of the program, called "Face to Face: Immigration Then and Now," say it's also important to let the public decide how they want to talk about the issue. On Wednesday in Chicago, about a dozen activists toured the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and then talked about how to make social change, drawing largely on personal experience. Among those invited were hip hop advocates, gay activists and Bill Ayers, a University of Illinois at Chicago professor and 1960s radical whose past association with President Barack Obama created headlines during the campaign. "Immigration is one of these central issues in American life," Ayers told The Associated Press. "I think the way it is being framed is profoundly dishonest." While there is no reform bill currently before legislators, Obama has vowed to take up the issue this year. But many Immigration reform activists have been skeptical because details have been scant and other pressing issue, like health care, have been polarizing. Organizers of the museum program say when it comes to Immigration, they want to circumvent legislators' town hall meetings on health care, which often erupted into shouting matches. "We hope that we'll be able to prevent what happened with health care to happening with Immigration so people can grapple with the tough questions we're facing," Sevcenko said. "Reform will happen because people are able to look at this issue in a much more informed and measured way." Other participating museums include the Field Museum and Cambodian American Heritage Museum, both in Chicago; the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, N.C., the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and Ellis Island in New York; the Japanese American Museum in Los Angeles; the New Americans Museum in San Diego; Angel Island in San Francisco; the Tsongas Industrial History Center in Lowell, Mass.; and the University of Texas El Paso's Paso al Norte Immigration History Museum in El Paso, Texas. The museums are part of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, a network which has more than 200 members worldwide. ------ On the Web: International Coalition of Sites of Conscience: Jane Addams Hull-House Museum:

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Museums, Diversity, and (Insert Culture Here): Appropriating Cultural Sensitivity Policy of the National Museum of the American Indian

This essay, by Christina Hardman, is the last in a series of essays written by the Texas Associaton of Museums scholarship recipients:

A well-designed collections management policy is important to the administration of a museum as a public trust on many different levels. Such policy creates a clear standard toward which the museum’s administration can look when dealing with everything from defining which collections are pertinent to the museum’s mission, to how to deal with acquisition, disposal, care, and display. However, a new appreciation for the meaning and significance of cultural patrimony has created a need for concern beyond the more traditional requirements of a collections management policy. Initially, these new concerns raised many questions for museums with collections of Native American origin. What responsibilities does the museum have toward the individual or group for which the object is an exceptional cultural resource? What additional responsibilities does the collections staff have toward the care and management of an object with respect to its cultural context? The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) has attempted to address such issues with regard to access and care of the collections, and the practice of cultural sensitivity policy within the museum as a whole. Yet such policy can also be viewed as a standard by which any museum can encourage diversity through cultural sensitivity as it relates to those represented within the museum, as well as the surrounding community.
That which differentiates NMAI’s policy is as much a reflection of the issues surrounding the state of Native American cultural patrimony as it is of the culturally sensitive items in the collection itself. Initially, one must consider the incidents leading up to the need for and creation of such policy, first and foremost being the systematic removal and collection of said objects from their cultural context. Many objects hold both a spiritual and mnemonic significance in terms of serving as both something to be revered and a way in which to remember significant events. The removal of the vast majority of those objects to private collections and museums has not only created historical interruption and cultural gaps in the conveyance of tradition, but it has forced indigenous cultures to look toward museums as the last bastion of their own cultural resources.[1] To a greater or lesser extent, depending upon geographical location, the same can be said of cultural resources collected as a result of both Jewish and African Diasporas, not to mention scores of cultural, religious, and minority groups. Although objects themselves may have different usage and meaning, historical and cultural interruption can affect any culture group in much the same way.
Consideration of the objects themselves in their original cultural context must also be addressed. According to W. Richard West, Jr., founding director of NMAI, the “object, if anything, was a secondary consideration to the primacy of the ceremonial ritual or process that led to its creation.”[2] Therefore, any object taken out of its cultural context and categorized in Anglo-American and Western European terms must be once again examined with regard to indigenous meaning. By its own mission, NMAI attempts to do exactly that by encouraging the “understanding of Native cultures…through partnership with Native people and others.” (The mission statement in its entirety can be found here: Once a museum has recognized the need for diversity within its exhibitions, programming, and collections, the same considerations may be made for those specific groups within the surrounding community or those represented within the museum. Within this framework, almost any community or culture may be substituted for the term “Native” and the same concepts applied in terms of consultation, collaboration, and cooperation with the specified group.
As is also evident by their mission statement, the foundation of thought behind NMAI as an institution is based on the idea that while it is a “museum” with objects and is a producer of exhibitions, collaboration must occur between the museum and Native peoples. This collaboration requires the incorporation of methods that integrate Native understandings of history and culture.[3] This includes consideration for Native religious and cultural beliefs with restrictions on access to culturally sensitive objects.[4] Native traditional care is based on the object’s spiritual meaning and its use within the community, rather than the object itself. As a middle ground, standard museum and Native practices regarding care integrate and change the relationship between the two. [5] In this same manner, collaboration can and must be a priority for museums at large. In much the same way that Native people have felt alienated from their own culture as it has been represented by museums in the past (and in some cases continues to be so, even today), many other groups, whether based on ethnicity, culture, or religious belief, are removed from the process of interpreting their own past. It is not enough to rely on history books for second-hand interpretation by an individual many times removed from the group or individual represented. It is the responsibility of the museum to reach out to the community at large and involve various groups in the interpretation of their own history and culture.
Many larger institutions with significant collections of Native American objects, such as the Denver Art Museum and the Arizona State Museum have had such policy in place for years (some even before the creations of NAGPRA, as in the case of the Peabody Museum at Harvard University). While such policies were originally created to address the challenges faced by Native American people and their representation and historic interpretation in museums, they may also be applied in a broader scope to address such issues related to many different culture groups. Although the policy is no longer completely unique to NMAI in its recognition of the cultures that created the objects and their vested interest in the care and use of the collections, it has been both accepted and rejected by the professional museum community at large and has fueled a public debate that continues even now. The future creation of such policy in the larger professional museum community, and its acceptance by those who view museums from the perspective of public trustee, must develop out of knowledge of the various cultural groups, their beliefs, and an understanding of the need for cultural sensitivity in museums.

[1] Berlo, Janet Catherine, Ruth B. Phillips and Carol Duncan. “The Problematics of Collecting and Display, Part 1.” The Art Bulletin, Vol. 77, No. 1. (March 1995), pp. 9.
[2] West, W. Richard Jr., “The National Museum of the American Indian: Steward of the Sacred.” Stewards of the Sacred. Eds. Lawrence E. Sullivan and Alison Edwards, eds. Washington, D.C.; The American Association of Museums: 2004, pp. 8.
[3] Cobb, Amanda J. “The National Museum of the American Indian as Cultural Sovereignty.” American Quarterly, Vol. 57, No. 2. (June 2005), pp. 493
[4] National Museum of the American Indian. Collections Management Policy. Smithsonian Institution, revised 28 April 1995, Item IV, Section E, Subsection 1, Paragraph (d).
[5] Cobb, pp. 493.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Reflections on Diversity by an Emerging Museum Professional

Below is the reflective essay written by Aminatta Kamara, one of the scholarship recipients for the 2009 Texas Association of Museums Annual meeting.

Too often when the average person thinks of a museum professional, images of old men, as dusty as the objects they care for are conjured. However, as an emerging museum professional, I know that face is slowly changing. What began as an influx of women into an arguably male-dominated profession a couple of decades ago has evolved to include a number of other minorities. As a recipient of the Multicultural Initiatives Scholarship this year, I was asked to pen an essay discussing the topic of diversity in museum professions. I struggled with the topic as I feel that perhaps, just entering the museum world professionally, I do not have the right to critique. So instead, I have chosen to chronicle my feelings as they now stand.
As a minority, I would be remiss if I did not mention how disheartened I felt the first day I walked into graduate school orientation only to realize that I was one of two minorities enrolled in the Art History program. For the first time in my life, I wondered if my acceptance was based on my grades and accomplishments as I so hoped it was, or if it was steeped in the university’s needs to diversify their program. Early on, my cohort and I forged a relationship as comrades – it was “us” against “them.” I do not believe that either of us ever felt completely accepted - a fact we discussed ad nauseum along with the feelings of isolation and disassociation we felt as part of the system. Half-heartedly we joked about being “token” minorities and, viewing ourselves somewhat as mavericks bucking stereotypes and paving the way for other minorities, encouraged each other to change the face of art historians—all in the incredibly vintage year 2006.
The stereotypes persisted after college as I applied at and visited museums across the state. Thankfully, my first TAM meeting dispelled a number of myths that my graduate school friend and I formulated in the lesser used libraries of our hilly campus. In El Paso, I was excited to meet the new face of the museum professional. A face much more representative of a cross-section of cultures and decidedly more diverse than in the past; the new professional is increasingly a more cohesive blend of the multi-cultural society in which we all reside. Perhaps an awakening of sorts was required; one in which a younger generation realized that not only can one embrace their history, but that history may be studied and in time channeled into a profession. In my case, enlightenment occurred on the day I learned the different careers available at a museum – curator, director, conservator – they all sounded so exotic and interesting. I still remember the heady feeling I got when I came to the realization that I did not have to choose between my love for art and history and a professional career. I for one did not have to settle for a boring, everyday job, attempting to satiate my desire for culture and learning on clandestine lunch breaks from my cubicle or whirlwind weekend museum trips. I could work at a museum and do what I loved daily. Thankfully, no one told me otherwise.
I encourage those involved in museums to open your doors and bring in those who may never have otherwise stepped over the threshold. I challenge you to introduce yourself and your job at the next school field trip and answer the questions of that third grader—don’t just leave it to the docents. Perhaps among them will be born the next advocate for museums and preservation; ensuring that the doors of your institution will remain open for generations to come. And that is something we can all be proud of.

Friday, 19 June 2009


Today is June 19th, or Juneteenth. This is a day that commemorates and celebrates the freedom from oppression of an entire people - African American Slaves. It is a date that must not ever be forgotten so that the mistakes and injustices of the past are not repeated in the history of the United States.

It is especially important for Texas museums to acknowledge this historic day because it originated in Texas in 1865. It is now celebrated around the nation.

Here is a list of Juneteenth Celebrations around the country. If your museum has a Juneteenth event, it may be added to the list.

Happy Juneteenth everyone. Let's celebrate freedom and the great legacy that African American slaves and their descendants have given us.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Immigration Files to Become Part of National Archives

Hopefully, these files can help museums put a face on the many immigrants that have shaped our history!,0,2566475.story

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Grant Opportunity for Educators!

Educators' Grant Program

Do you have a creative educational project that needs funding? The American Immigration Law Foundation's Curriculum Center is here to help! In an effort to support teachers in engaging their students and communities in thoughtful dialogues centered on the issue of immigration and multiculturalism, the Center awards bi-annual grants for immigration-themed projects. While this school year is coming to a close, it's never too early to plan ahead for next year.
The next deadline for AILF's educators' grant is June 5, 2009 - only two weeks away!

The American Immigration Law Foundation will award grants nationwide for the 2009-2010 school year, of $100 to $500, to fund a limited number of projects that provide education about immigrants and immigration. The Foundation seeks to fund activities that are innovative and supportive of AILF's mission of promoting the benefits of immigration to our nation.
This year, the Foundation is extending the grant program to fund more "service-learning" oriented projects and invites extension educators as wells a community leaders who want to make an impact in their community to apply. Take a look at past grant winners from 2005 to present to get an idea of the kinds of projects we fund.

The Foundation is always looking for innovative and creative classroom ideas. Applications for immigration-themed projects will be considered for all subject areas, although special consideration will be given for proposals that relate to the following categories:

Innovative use of technology
Underrepresented minorities
Community outreach and partnerships with community-based organizations
Math and science

Applications are limited to educators, extension educators and community leaders. Proposals that are classroom-based will receive strong consideration and the Foundation encourages projects that can be replicated in other classrooms across the nation. Funds for field trips will NOT be granted and grants are non-renewable.
Grant applications are available on the Curriculum Center's Teachers' Grant Program web page. Don't forget to include the following application components:
1. A completed application form.
2. An essay detailing the objectives of the proposed project, a timeline for the activity, a list of resources to be used and/or created, and an explanation of how the proposed project might be used by others. Also, please include at least one paragraph of autobiographical information, and tell us about any previous immigration-related curriculum activities you have conducted. 3. Proposed budget with estimated expenses. 4. Recommendation letter from principal on school letterhead.Send completed application packet to
Grants will be awarded bi-annually with submissions deadlines of June 5, 2009 and November 20, 2009.
Recipients will be selected by AILF's Curriculum Advisory Board and announced and disbursed in July and December 2009. Grants will be paid to the teacher submitting the proposal and teachers will have one year to complete their projects. A summary lesson plan and sample materials must be submitted in hard copy and electronically to AILF by that time, and become the property of AILF for use on the Foundation website and in print materials.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Session Proposals Needed; Great Ideas Wanted!

Do you have an idea for a session for the TAM 2010 Annual Meeting? If it deals with diversity or multiculturalism, The MIC can help!

TAM has extended our deadline to Friday, May 22 to submit session proposals for the 2010 Annual Meeting.

Please contact me by Thursday, May 21 if you have a session idea or topic, or if you need help developing a session.

Friday, 24 April 2009

The TAM Multicultural Initiatives Action Plan

In 1995, the Texas Association of Museums published the Multicultural Initiatives Action Plan. The MIC is in the process of updating and revising the plan. However, the original document is still a valuable tool for museums who would like to do a self assessment or who would like some guidelines and/or measures for diversity in museums. While part of the plan is available from the TAM website, here is the printable version in its entirety. I hope some of you find it useful. Please send us your comments of what you would like to see updated, revised or added to this plan. You may click on the link to view it, or click on the small square on the top right corner of the screen to enlarge it. If you download it, the bluriness will be gone, although the the print is still quite light. Enjoy:
MIC Action Plan

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The Sor Juana Festival

The National Museum of Mexican Art, in collaboration with many museums and organizations, is in the midst of its Sor Juana Festival . Please take a moment to click on the link and look through the many events that have taken place in various museums throughout Texas.

"The Sor Juana Festival, a tribute to Mexican women,has become the largest Latino performing arts festival in the country. Currently, the festival is divided into two seasons: Marchthrough May in Texas and April through June in Chicago/Milwaukee with plans of further expansion into other cities.

The Sor Juana Festival is a multidisciplinary festival that honors one of Mexico’s greatest writers, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a 17th-century Mexican nun who valued the education of women. Sor Juana was a celebrated playwright, mathematician and poet in her own time and considered to be the first feminist of the Americas. Through this unique festival, we celebrate the legacy of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and pay tribute to the rich artistic accomplishments of Mexican women from Mexico and the United States. The festival includes: culinary arts, dance, film, literature, music, theater and visual arts and takes place at different venues throughout the Texas cities of Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio."

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Embracing Diversity within Museums: Texas Museums Take a Stand

Below is a wonderful essay written by one of the TAM scholarship recipients, Kendra A. Jones. Enjoy:

I would define “diversity” as the celebration of the uniqueness and distinctiveness of various types of people and their cultures. As the United States has entered into 2009 with the ushering in of the nation’s first African-American president, a man whose own background consists of a multi-ethnic cultural heritage, the importance of promoting diversity within American institutions has become evident. Throughout the history of the nation, the population of the United States has increasingly grown to include various cultures from around the world. In particular, boarder states such as the state of Texas, experience an influx of immigrants from neighboring countries such as Mexico; thus resulting in a large Hispanic population residing within the state of Texas. In response to this situation, the museums of the state of Texas have decided to make a conscientious effort to address the issue of diversity within their institutions.
In 1995, the Texas Association of Museums made a significant attempt at addressing the issue of diversity within museums in the state of Texas with the development of the Action Plan for Multicultural Initiatives in Texas Museums. This twenty-page publication emphasized the need for Texas museums to acknowledge, accept and further support the state’s ever-increasing diverse, multicultural population in order to remain culturally-relevant to the communities they serve. The Action Plan was designed to function as a guide for museums to follow in order to effectively increase the diversity present within their programs, staffs, board members, volunteers, audiences and other supporters. The guide presents a step-by-step approach for self-evaluating the performance of an institution and also assists with the development of a feasible plan of action based on the assessment of the results of such evaluation. Providing supplementary resources such as model case studies, a diversity glossary, an extensive bibliography, and additional resource lists, the publication serves as a vital asset to any institution desiring to promote and embrace diversity.
The 2009 Texas Association of Museums Annual Meeting in El Paso, Texas offered sessions highlighting the issues surrounding diversity and multiculturalism to the hundreds of museum studies students and museum professionals who attended this year’s annual meeting. Such sessions included “Cultural Foreign Affairs: Mexico's Commitment to International Cultural Exchange with the United States,” “Diálogo: Becoming Bilingual Museums,” and “Does Your Board Reflect Your Community?” These sessions covered such topics as the politics of the collaborative efforts and cultural affairs between the United States and Mexico in regards to the international exchange of art and culture, the philosophy of museums as catalysts for building community by creating inclusive environments through the use of bilingual programming and exhibitions and the conscription and development of a multicultural and diverse board that reflects the community it serves. The inclusion of such sessions into the programming for the Annual Meeting reinforces TAM’s commitment to increasing the awareness for the need to address issues of diversity and multiculturalism within the museum field.
During the 2009 Texas Association of Museums Annual Meeting in El Paso, Texas, I had the opportunity to attend the “Diálogo: Becoming Bilingual Museums” session and walked away with a greater understanding of what it means to be a “bilingual museum.” I initially went into the session thinking that the only requirement of a “bilingual museum” was to have someone (preferably an in-house staff member; to keep costs low) translate all of the exhibit labels into another language and offer audio tours in a secondary language. However, as the presenters in the session explored the topic of being a “bilingual museum,” I was pleasantly surprised with the various other factors that must also be considered. The session provided me with such insights as the essentialness of collaboration between museums and the audiences that they desire to reach in order to effectively create inclusive environments in which diversity thrives. Another insight I gained was that museums should seek to design and create exhibitions based on topics that are relevant and significant for the communities they serve, allowing for audience involvement with the development of the museums’ public programs and exhibitions. Museums are relevant to the communities they serve because, through successful public programming and exhibitions, these institutions establish connections between themselves and the lives of the people living within these communities. The input of a diverse group of people from within the community should result in museums having a better understanding of the various and particular needs and desires of their audiences. Equipped with this knowledge, the museums should be able to develop a strategic plan for their public programming efforts that addresses the need for creating inclusive environments within their institutions that embrace and promote diversity and multiculturalism.
As a staff member of a museum who recently underwent a name change, adding the word “multicultural” into the institutional name, in order to construct fashion a more inclusive image of the institution, I benefited greatly from attending this year’s annual meeting. I returned to my home institution with a notebook full of ideas that my museum team can begin to implement within our museum in order to compliment our new name as we move forward with a goal of highlighting the value and relevancy of diversity and multiculturalism within our museum, in the hopes of helping to shape a nation that is ready to embrace its diverse population.

Friday, 27 March 2009

A Nation of Many Cultures

I just wanted to share this interactive immigration map. It is a great illustration of all of the different immigrants that have come into the United States since 1880. You can select a decade, a particular state, and/or a region of where the immigrants came from. It is a powerful visual tool that asserts that our nation's history is indeed complex and multicultural.

Monday, 16 March 2009

TAM Annual Meeting Offers Great Sessions

The Texas Association of Musuems Annual Meeting is this week. With such a powerful theme like Building Bridges, Breaking Down Barriers, this meeting presents the perfect opportunity to discuss some of the diversity issues important to this committee. The program is full of international speakers as well as some very interesting and thought-provoking sessions.
If you are going to the meeting, make sure you check out the following sessions:

Wednesday, March 18

8:45 a.m.–10:00 a.m.
And the Myth Goes On…More “Lies My Docent Told Me…”
Back by popular demand, this session will be a continuation of the 2008 “Lies My Docent Told Me” panel discussion. Join our now famous myth busting team of Susan Smyer and Jonathan Plant as they are joined by Hal Simon and Henry Crawford in redirecting the free license that docents often take with history. Our panelists will introduce the topic, bring a few new myths they’ve dispelled, and then engage session attendees in a conversation about myths, why we love them, and how we can help make them go away. If you are looking to retrain staff, conduct research, or just a have a great time this discussion is for you!

10:30 a.m.–11:45 a.m.
Cultural Foreign Affairs: Mexico's Commitment to International Cultural Exchange with the United States
Off-site/El Paso Museum of Art
Museums throughout Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico, are increasingly interested in bringing art and culture from Mexico to their communities. No other part of the world shares so much of the same history, politics, linguistics, and socioeconomic concerns. Yet many museums are uncertain about the complications of international transit, crossing borders, and the longstanding bridges to success in collaboration that are already in place. Understanding may begin with knowing there is a strong commitment from the Mexican government to export its culture. This session will present information about the politics of binational and international foreign cultural affairs in Mexico and between the US and Mexico. One example to be presented is collaborative programming opportunities around the 2010 centennial of the Mexican Revolution and the Bicentennial of Independence of Mexico from Spain.
Feature Speaker: Alberto Fierro, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Dirección General de Asuntos Culturales de Mexico

12:00 p.m.–1:30 p.m.
Opening Luncheon
Special Guests:
Alberto Fierro, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Dirección General de Asuntos Culturales de Mexico

Kathy Dwyer Southern, President and CEO, National Children’s Museum, Washington, DC, and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the American Association of Museums, Washington, D.C.

Opening Keynote: Introducing All of the U.S. to All of the World: The Role of Museums in International Cultural Understanding By Adair Margo, El Paso
Adair Margo has chaired the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities since 2001, appointed by President George W. Bush. During her chairmanship, there has been a renewed focus on international cultural understanding and a flourishing of international activity among the cultural agencies. Adair was recognized by two Presidents for her recent work: by President Felipe Calderon of Mexico with the Aguila Azteca, the highest recognition given by the Mexican government to a non-Mexican citizen, and by President George W. Bush with the Presidential Citizens Medal.
Founded in 1985, the Adair Margo Gallery in El Paso has exhibited over 400 individual artists from a dozen countries. The Gallery hosted over 200 exhibitions and placed the work of regional artists in world class collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, U.S. Embassies worldwide, and the Oval Office of the White House.
Margo is the author of two books and has taught art history at New Mexico State University and the University of Texas at El Paso. Margo has served on many boards, including the Texas Commission on the Arts, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/Commission on Colleges Executive Committee; Mid-America Arts Alliance; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum National Council.
Pre-registration is required. Cost is $28. Tickets must be presented for this event. No tickets will be sold in El Paso.

1:45 p.m.-3:00 p.m.
La pasada prohibida de…”: Organizing Exhibitions Borrowed from Museums and Collections in Mexico
Amazing examples of art and artifacts are held in collections on both sides of the border, but borrowing objects across borders and sharing exhibitions between countries can be a complicated and challenging process. This session will propose a checklist of considerations that must be made in formulating binational exhibitions and will offer advice to registrars, curators, preparators and other museum personnel involved in handling such exhibitions. It will also shed light on some of the most puzzling questions such as: Do I need to hire a custom’s broker? Who can transport these objects to/from and in Mexico? Will I need additional insurance in Mexico? At the end of this session attendees will have important legal and customs information about binational exhibitions. They will also learn of resources and contacts that simplify and clarify borrowing objects from Mexico.

Thursday, March 19

12:00 p.m.–1:15 p.m.
Networking Luncheon
Finally, here’s a chance for an informal lunch with friends and colleagues. Pick up your box lunch and join a conversation! TAM Affinity Groups meet during the Networking Lunch, so find a group that follows your interests and get acquainted with your counterparts
Pre-registration is required. Cost is $20.00. Tickets must be presented for this event. No tickets will be sold in El Paso.
MIC will be holding its annual meeting at this luncheon. Hope to see you there!

1:30 p.m.-2:45 p.m.

Dialogo: Becoming Bilingual Museums

There are more than 28 million Spanish speakers in the United States today and more than 8 million live in Texas. This session lays out the challenges and benefits of creating inclusive environments for Spanish-speaking visitors. Based on a philosophy of museums as catalysts for building community, panelists will discuss both theory and practice of the bilingual museum, including providing accurate translation of museum didactics, partnering with community organizations to bring non-traditional visitors into the museum, and creating programming that allows for an exchange of ideas between immigrant populations and the larger community. Panelists will share from a rich history of past projects that have engaged a diverse cross-section of bilingual participants, building stronger museum audiences and stronger communities.

3:15 p.m.–4:30 p.m.
Does Your Board Reflect Your Community?
If you held a mirror up to your board members, would your local community be reflected? Institutions, councils, and friends groups across Texas are struggling to ensure that all voices are represented in their governing and supporting institutions. As the state grows more diverse, the challenge becomes more and more daunting. How can you achieve a truly representative board? Where do you find local leaders? And why is board diversity so important anyway? This session will focus on the recruitment and development of multicultural and diverse board members.

Friday, March 20

11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Closing Luncheon
Special Guest:
Sean McGlynn, Director, City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department, El Paso

Closing Keynote: A Tale of Two Republics: Why the U.S. and Mexico are so Different By Donald S. Frazier, Ph.D., Professor of History, McMurry University, AbileneThe project was made possible in part with a grant from Humanities Texas, the state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

A native of Big Spring, Donald S. Frazier, Ph.D., is professor of history at McMurry University in Abilene. He has authored several books, including the award-winning Blood and Treasure: Confederate Empire in the Southwest, is coauthor of Frontier Texas: History of a Borderland to 1880, and editor of The United States and Mexico at War: Nineteenth-Century Expansionism and Conflict. Frazier also founded and manages the Grady McWhiney Research Foundation, an Abilene-based nonprofit for the advancement of history education that includes State House Press, the McWhiney Foundation Press, and the museum and educational programs of the Texas Frontier Heritage and Cultural Center. He has consulted on several national projects for PBS, the History Channel, the National Park Service, and Preserve America.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

TAM Announces Multicultural Scholarship Recipients

The Association of Museums has awarded three multicultural scholarships to attend the Texas Association of Museums Annual Meeting:

Christina Hardman received a graduate degree in Museum Studies from The George Washington University in Washington, DC in May 2008. While there, she completed a directed internship at the National Museum of the American Indian’s Cultural Resource Center, where she gained valuable knowledge about culturally sensitive collections care and community curated exhibition. She also worked for the Exhibits Department of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and for the Presidential Gifts branch of the Presidential Materials Staff at NARA. She currently works at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. Christina is a native Texan and happy to be back home in Texas!

Kendra Jones has a Bachelors of Arts degree in Anthropology and a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. She is working towards earning a Master of Arts in Anthropology at the University of Texas at Arlington. She works at the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum in Fort Worth, Texas as the Museum Coordinator and has recently been promoted to Director of Collections and Exhibits. Within her professional museum career, her intent is to successfully start and continue to enhance the capacity of her museum.

Aminatta Kamara has recently completed her Master of Arts in Art History at the University of Texas at Austin. Her thesis was titled, "Civil Rights in Black and White: The Life Magazine photographs of Flip Schulke and Charles Moore." She is currently the curator at the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur and is thrilled to be able to attend her first TAM annual meeting.

Congratulations to these very worthy individuals!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

An Opportunity for Future Latino Museum Professionals!

This is from the Smithsonian Latino Center:

The Smithsonian Latino Center's Young Ambassadors Program consists of an in-depth seminar designed to encourage Latino youth to examine and embrace their cultural identity and an internship opportunity that increases the participants exposure to the arts and culture field. The goal of the program is to foster knowledge and pride in Latino cultural identity, as well as provide the participants with financial support with which to seek higher education. Through the program, we empower Latino youth to develop leadership and academic skills. This program is made possible through the generous support of Ford Motor Company Fund.


Young Ambassadors is a national leadership development program for high school seniors with the aim to cultivate the next generation of Latino leaders in the arts and culture fields through one-on-one interaction with artists, curators, historians, and other museum and arts professionals.
Students with an interest and commitment to the arts (e.g. film, dance, design, music, visual, performing, and/or literary arts) are selected to travel to Washington, D.C. for a week-long arts enrichment and leadership seminar at the Smithsonian Institution. Conducted by world-renowned experts in their respective fields, the seminar encourages youth to examine Latino identity and embrace their own cultural heritage through first-hand observation of the Smithsonian’s Latino collections, lectures, and other activities. Following the seminar, students return to museums and other cultural institutions in their local communities, including Smithsonian affiliated organizations, to participate in a four-week summer internship. This program is made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund.

For more information, go to the Program's site

Please spread the word!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Getty Institute Offers Multicultural Undergraduate Internships

The following announcement comes from the Philanthropy News Digest at the Foundation Center:

In order to increase diversity in professions related to museums and the visual arts, the Getty Institute is offering summer internships at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa to undergraduates from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Internships provide training and work experience in areas such as conservation, library collections, publications, museum education, curatorship, grants administration, public programs, site operations, and information technology.

The Multicultural Undergraduate Internships at the Getty are intended specifically for outstanding students who are members of groups currently underrepresented in museum professions and fields related to the visual arts: African Americans, Asians, Latinos/Hispanics, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders.

Applicants must be currently enrolled undergraduates who either reside or attend college in Los Angeles County and who will have completed at least one semester of college by June 2009. Students who complete their undergraduate degree by September 1, 2009, are also eligible to apply. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Candidates are sought from all areas of undergraduate study and are not required to have demonstrated a previous commitment to the visual arts.

Internships provide stipends of $3,500 for ten-week summer internships at the Getty Center in Los Angeles or at the Getty Villa in Malibu, California. The internships are full-time, begin June 15, 2009, and end August 20, 2009. Housing and transportation are not provided.

Visit the Getty web site for complete application guidelines.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Diversity Fellowships Available

American Association of Museums Offers Diversity Fellowship Program:

"The Diversity Fellowship Program is designed to assist full time students, in a museum-related course of study by providing support to attend AAM’s Annual Meetings. Diversity is a great strength of our society, there is significant disparity between the diversity of our communities, and the people who visit, work in, and lead our cultural institutions. AAM encourages museums to strive for greater inclusiveness of individuals and communities that are diverse with regard to their national origin, gender, race, culture, economic status, religion, sexual orientation, physical or cognitive ability, age, and/or family structure." For more information, or to apply, please visit the Diversity Fellowship Program site.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Multiculutral Scholarships Available to attend TAM Conference!

The Texas Association of Museums is offering a limited number of full scholarships for the Annual Meeting to be awarded to minority professionals currently working in Texas museums. Applicants must be early-career and/or new to the Texas museum profession. These scholarships will include meeting registration, one workshop, one luncheon, one breakfast, and an evening event. The scholarship recipient(s) will be responsible for his or her travel, lodging, and incidental costs.

For more information on the Annual Meeting, to be held in El Paso, please visit the TAM website.

Following the meeting the recipient (s) will be asked to write an article for the TAM quarterly e-newsletter, The TAMALE, offering observations on the state of diversity in the museum profession and/or their observations on diversity based on the annual meeting.

To apply, send a resume, references, and a one-page letter stating reasons for applying for the scholarship to the TAM office. This information is to be received no later than January 30, 2009. Representatives of the MIC will assist in evaluating applications and selecting winners. Notification of the award(s) will be made by February 6, 2009