Prepared Remarks of Laura L. Lott
President & CEO of the American Alliance of Museums
General Session of the 2020 AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo
June 1, 2020
Good morning and welcome to the continuation of the first American Alliance of Museums Virtual Annual Meeting and Museum Expo. I’m Laura Lott, President and CEO of AAM.
Thank you to the thousands of museum professionals who joined us two weeks ago for our kick-off—welcome back! And welcome to those of you joining us for the first time today. We have a fantastic program this week that addresses many important issues facing our field.
In my opening remarks a few weeks ago, I called on all of us to support each other, be kind to each other, check in on our colleagues, and practice empathy during this difficult time. I’m joining you live this morning to share a somber message about recent events that make that call to action even more crucial.
Today, I’m not just talking about the global pandemic that has led to more than 365,000 deaths worldwide, shuttered our museums, and forced near-record unemployment.
In recent weeks, the United States suffered multiple racist acts, resulting in the senseless killing of Black people and unfathomable violence across our country. These atrocious murders are a jarring reminder that we in the museum field are either living with, or have colleagues who live with the possibility of something violent or hateful happening to them on any given day…simply because of their race, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation, nationality, or religion.
A colleague recently commented that these racist acts are a reminder that while we may be less exposed to a virus by staying away from each other, we are increasingly exposed to the anxiety, pain, and anger that can come from dealing with traumatizing events alone. In this time of forced isolation, we must be especially vigilant in looking out for each other. So, I ask you again to seek each other out, ask caring questions, and listen closely to what you hear.
The museum field not only has a responsibility to ask the hard questions and learn from each other; we have a unique duty to listen, to chronicle the lessons and histories of our communities, and to educate future generations so that we might stop this senseless violence.
These are difficult times, but they are not insurmountable. While we cannot change or control everything that’s going on in the world, we do each have the power to bring light and empathy to our fellow human beings.
None of you are alone. You are each part of an Alliance of colleagues who are here to listen…and who need to be heard.
Before I pass along the proverbial mic, I want to note that, in an effort to be engaged with you in real time, our general session speakers pre-recorded their remarks prior to these recent tragedies.
Thank you again for being online with us this week. Now, I’d like to welcome Chevy Humphrey, the Hazel A. Hare President and CEO of the Arizona Science Center and Chair of the AAM Board.
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Laura, thank you for your spot on words yesterday morning. Your comments were both reassuring and challenging for us individually and as a profession. Thank you for your leadership of AAM.
How do we, as Museum professionals, counteract the systemic racism encased in our own walls and housed in our own collections?