|Credit: Emily Taylor|
To use a metaphor of a tree, imagine if its branches represented the various functions of museums. There are branches for collections, exhibitions, preservation, education, development, marketing, etc. I argue that inclusion is the trunk of the tree and the strongest part that holds all other functions together. Understanding your organization’s trunk is vital for seeing how your staff think, act, plan, collaborate, and communicate. It resonates throughout the entire organization. Shifting to be more inclusive exponentially impacts the work across the entire museum. To begin this process, museums must focus on professional development, policies and procedures, as well as leadership.
Inclusion requires knowledge, skills, and abilities that are not wholly taught to museum professionals through training programs. Nor are these typically skills that staff can learn on the job. Albert Einstein’s quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” rings true. We cannot expect for our field to do this work through osmosis. Museum staff need professional development opportunities. Through leading DICE, I see how our professional development opportunities with staff have encouraged:
- Increased cultural competence, including knowledge of the groups that have been marginalized by museums
- Greater awareness of attitudes towards diversity and inclusion in order to understand areas of personal biases and barriers
- More commitment from staff to build skills that allow for increased cultural flexibility and an ability to shift patterns of behavior toward being more inclusive.