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Statement on the Violence at the US Capitol

Category: Press Release

Dear Museum Community,

The violence and chaos that ensued in our nation’s capital on January 6 was horrifying and reprehensible, and a clear attack on our democracy and society propagated by deliberate deception and misinformation from elected officials. On a day that the United States recorded the most COVID-19 deaths in a single day so far, rioters invaded the U.S. Capitol building in an effort to overturn the unambiguous results of our presidential election resulting in the additional tragic loss of lives.

Museums serve millions of people of all backgrounds and political persuasions in communities across the country, who cast their vote on Election Day. Regardless of whom their ballots favored, our support for the democratic process and the peaceful transition of power must be unequivocal.

There is no doubt that systemic racism and the consistent downplaying of the threat of white supremacy in the United States allowed for the security breach on the Capitol, a museum itself, to take place. The treatment of the rioters, many of whom bore clothing and paraphernalia symbolizing hate, violence, and white supremacy, highlights a pronounced double standard in how peaceful Black and brown protesters fighting for racial justice have been treated.

At this dark junction in our nation’s history, museums must lean into their missions and step up to the challenge ahead of us by fighting against white supremacy through educating our communities, building empathy, combating disinformation, and uplifting the stories and voices that have endured in the margins. As interpreters and educators of history and culture, museums and museum professionals have the power to uphold democracy and democratic norms, call out bigotry and hate, and fight for racial justice.

We thank our members of Congress who returned to the Capitol after rioters were cleared to resume the electoral college count and certify President-Elect Biden’s victory, the members of the media who stayed to accurately document this atrocity, and the museum professionals who are now assessing the impact to the Capitol’s collections.

It could not be clearer that it is time for lawmakers to unify around the certified election of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris. Only united can we move forward to confront our nation’s many challenges, chief among them addressing systemic racism in the United States and ending the pandemic.

American Alliance of Museums

in partnership with 

American Association for State and Local History

American Institute for Conservation

Association of Academic Museums and Galleries

Association of African American Museums

Association of Art Museum Directors

Association of Children’s Museums

Association of Midwest Museums

Association of Science and Technology Centers

Council of American Jewish Museums

Illinois Association of Museums

Louisiana Association of Museums

Museum Association of Arizona

Museum Association of New York

Museum Store Association

New England Museum Association

New Jersey Association of Museums

Western Museums Association

Southeastern Museums Conference

The Association of Art Museum Curators

The California Association of Museums

Utah Museums Association

Visitor Studies Association

If you are an AAM Affiliate organization, or a state or regional museum association, and would like to sign onto this statement, please contact AAM Director of Marketing & Communications, Natanya Khashan.

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Comments

6 Comments

  1. Bravo AAM! As a student of history, believer in democracy, and someone who values the ideal of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, I am overwhelmed with emotions of disgust and shame about Wednesday’s occurrences in our nation’s capital. As a privileged white man watching the events unfold it only further demonstrated what happens when we allow ignorance and hatred to completely take over. I do believe that the horrid events that unfolded on Wednesday completely shown a light on the hypocrisy of a government that allows white insurgent Americans at a President’s urging to storm and then desecrate our nation’s capital under the banner of MAGA with little show of resistance or consequences, while just months earlier a military presence protected the same steps from peaceful protest to help Americans understand why Black Lives Matter. As a social historian I know that everyone makes history and that for history to be truly relevant it has to be inclusive history.

  2. Thank you for making this statement. Museums can play a pivotal role in becoming places where people of different backgrounds, opinions and ideas can come together for civil discourse, learning and finding common ground.

  3. What is the position of AAM and its affiliates on the cancel culture’s attacks on historical sculptures and works of art, places, and buildings?

  4. Not “rioters.” They are terrorists, insurrectionists, traitors. Stop using words that diminish the impact and reality of these people’s actions.

  5. Thank you. Museums of the United States are, can and should assume their rightful places as the preservers of history, art, education, truth and honor. They can be above the “politics” of the day, but should also stand for the timeless ideals of equality, fairness, justice and peace that the United States should strive for always. I very much appreciate that you are stepping up and assuming this role; rolling up your sleeves and speaking out in support of democracy and human rights.

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