This is a recorded session from the 2020 AAM Virtual Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo.
Many culturally‐specific museums are committed to providing space, a consistent platform, and an authentic voice for people of color. However, as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) dialogues increase, these institutions have largely been left out of the conversations. This panel focuses on DEI lessons from culturally‐specific museums centered on people of color.
Presenters: Stephanie A. Cunningham, Museum Hue; Demetri Broxton, Museum of the African Diaspora; Nicole Lim, The California Indian Museum and Cultural Center; Lisa Sasaki, Asian Pacific American Center, Smithsonian Institution
Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham: Hi all, thank you so much for joining us. I see that people are literally joining us from all over the country. So thank you all again for being here and thank you to the American Alliance of Museums for seeing just how critical this conversation is now more than ever. And I want to also thank my panelists, as well, for joining me on this conversation around lessons in equity from culturally specific museums.
We have on the panel Nicole limb from the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center. Dimitri Broxton from the Museum of the African diaspora. The so Sacchi from the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and Mike equal Devo from Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute.
And so I want to start this panel off by just acknowledging that black lives matter. We must acknowledge and fight against the pervasive anti-black systems that exists throughout the US since its very founding.
We must recognize that America’s biggest virus is racism which the museum field is not exempt the field was built on and have upheld racist and white supremacy ideologies. We must combat historical and contemporary plundering and whitewashing of our natural resources and cultural heritage.
We must condemn state-sanctioned violence against black and indigenous people, we must collectively demand justice and support those on the front line of the uprising. We must address intersecting anti-black, anti-indigenous, and anti-Asian practices and we must not just have diversity talks, but anti-racist actions.
And know that a part of equity and liberty for black and brown people include having agency of our own institutions stories communities and bodies, which is why today’s conversation is so critical. So my name is Stephanie Johnson Cunningham and I am the co-founder and creative director of Museum Hue.
Museum Hue was created to celebrate and provide greater visibility for black and brown museum professionals throughout the US.
And we also recognize the importance of black cultural institutions, specifically, and the essential role they play in preserving and telling the story of the black experience in America with an authentic voice. You can learn more about Museum Hue and join the hundreds of people across the nation who have signed up as our Members to support our movement in the field.
And now I’ll kick it off to Nicole Lim.
Nicole Lim: Thank you, Stephanie. We wanted to begin this event with the land acknowledgment.
We’d like to honor and acknowledge the original inhabitants of our various regions to the east, we’re speaking from the unseeded territories of the bonding Manabe Piscataway people. And from the worst were in the homeland of the Rama to a Loney the promo me walk and the Waldo, you want to take a minute to honor these ancestral grounds that we are collectively gathered upon and support the resilience and strength that all indigenous people have shown and continue to show worldwide. A land acknowledgment is a critical step towards working with Native communities to secure meaningful partnership and inclusion in the stewardship and protection of their cultural resources and homelands. As many of us are settler immigrants or descendants of those who were forcibly brought to this continent.
Our institutions were founded upon exclusions and erasers of indigenous people whose land. We are located uponWe honor and are grateful for the land we occupy and recognize the ongoing damage of settler colonialism land acknowledgments. Demonstrate a commitment to begin the process of working to dismantle ongoing legacies of settler colonialism and commitment to the truth. And commitment to the pursuit of truth and healing.
You wanted to start with that. Next slide, please.
Just a little bit of background about me. I’m HOMO and I am located up in Santa Rosa, which is the Northern California region. And our museum was founded upon the purpose of educating the public about California Indian history and culture from a native perspective. And that was really critical for me in terms of my journey. I came to the museum field through a legal field which many people find surprising. Although, for me, it was something that was quite natural. And I remember being a law student and sitting in constitutional law classes and listening to cases about religious freedom for Native Americans and sacred sites and I’m thinking to myself that I could address historical bias and change a lot more things from working from the classroom, instead of the courtroom and soI became committed to teaching the public about California Indian history and culture.
And for me, it’s also something that’s very personal. This slide shows a photo black and white photo of my great grandmother Elizabeth posh from the big Valley Indian Reservation in Lake County. She was a survivor of the bloody island massacre. And there were over 300 massacres in California and during the Gold Rush that pretty much no one talks about, and the other picture with Michelle Obama is my daughter. Who is one of our tribal youth ambassadors and she was recognized at the White House, became a student speaker for the work that she does with her Tribal Youth on cultural revitalization.
And that was a very pivotal moment for the museum and myself thinking back to our history and the word of extermination. That was waged upon our people and knowing that you know in 2020We weren’t still meant to be here and the fact that we’re, we are. And we’re not just surviving. But we’re thriving andAnd defining our own future is really critical to the work we do you see.
These are some of the programs we have at our museum of. We have a lot of fourth-graders and third graders that come in we focus quite a bit on travel ecologic knowledge we have maker stations.With each indigenous innovations and science we teach about the missions and the gold rush from a native perspective, which are hard to do, or nine-year-olds, because it definitely in an honest.Perspective on that history. It can be scary and horrifying. But I’m a fourth graders are pretty resilient and they’re open to it as well as their parents, we are very committed to working towards curricular reform in California, we believe that we should have high school classes around Native American studies where we can really examineGenocide. And so we work quite a bit on curriculum and advocacy in the classroom for Native students are our crown jewel of our programs are most proud of is our travel youth ambassador programs we have native us from our area anywhere from nine years old to 24 years old that participate in all kinds of different projects digital storytelling.
They also have a micro-enterprise business where they do food sovereignty. They created an acorn protein bite by studying our traditional foods and creating a recipe for a modern context.And so we’re really proud of all the achievements.We’ve also been very focused on crisis unfortunately we’re in wildfire territory. So in the recent years crisis has become our middle name. Unfortunately, but it’s prepared us to work to mobilize resources for our community.Right now we have a project where we’re building up our green infrastructure resiliency so that we can actually be a resilience hub for our community clean air filtration wildfire being able to disseminate resources to community members during times of central essentially chaos during those times. But we’re also working very diligently responding to the needs of our community during covenThere’s not much equity in how resources are distributed during times of emergency and we found that our community often doesn’t get served we have traditional food boxes traditional metal medicine boxes going out to our elders.We’ve also amped up our virtual programming.
We have cultural arts classes that we bring our community together as who culture and healing.A lot of times, things like this also trigger emotional responses and historical trauma and so when finding different ways of learning and bringing community together.One big issue that our museum faces is cultural razor and appropriation.Genesis genocide is something that’s left out of the history books. And one of the issues that we have in terms of California Native people is everybody wants to tell our story, but they don’t want to listen to us tell it. And so there’s tends to be a usurpation of our authority over that dialogue. And so we think that it’s very critical.
That we have a strong voice in that and that we have a seat at the table when it comes to discussions about our history or cultural revitalization or our collections.And that also includes human remains so cultural appropriation are things that we deal with on a constant basis.We work quite a bit to partner with other museums on the colonization strategies I have to remind often when we work with other institutions that the colonization is not about letting Native Americans, visit our stuff is great when we get to go into the collections and see our items and be able to pray with them and use them in a cultural context, however.Decolonization is about giving things back and repatriation and our communities, having control over our cultural heritage items and what they mean for our communities, now and in the future. And so we have a long way to go on that effort, but but we’re ready to have those conversations one thing that impacts us, as an institution, and specifically, our community is dealing with historical trauma.
This is a graphic that was created by one of our promo artists that she was a burden basket and all the things that we carry with those burdens and native people, you know, being triple and quadruple the rates for suicide for depression for outcomes of historical trauma and negative coping strategies.And so we have to keep in mind as we work with our Native youth at we prepare them to deal with historical trauma.That as we work with our staff that we’re prepared. We often run into racism stereotypes and things that are very triggering when we work with schools.You know, and they want to kind of romanticize things about the mission system and we’re angry because things haven’t changed in 30 years since we were in the classroom.Those things are very difficult and need to be processed and need to be healed. So we have to be very cognizant of that and all the work of some of the best practices that we found in our institution are really focusing on our own ancestral territory partnering withPrivate and public landowners acknowledging traditional ecological knowledge in how land is managed how cultural resources are gathered how we combat climate change.Creating an intergenerational learning opportunities between our elders and our youth. So we have that transmission of cultural knowledge that we focus on strength, while we carry our historical trauma.
Our focus is about resiliency and the capacity of our youth to overcome those challenges and define their future. So we integrate their youth voice. We are not a collections-based institution. We’re very focused on native stories and being part of the civic dialogue.We try to limit on the partnerships that we have to ones that practice reciprocity, I think for a lot of culturally based institutions.When we start partnerships, so much of the emphasis is on teaching the other partner and bringing them up to speed and that can be very diluted in terms of our staff capacity and our energies. And so we’ve learned how to pick and choose. And we want to encourage our youth to be agents of change to change things. They don’t like that. They see around them and everything we do is focused on culture.Promoting our culture revitalizing our culture, promoting youth identity and bringing strengthen and more healing within our tribal community.
And then I believe this last slide focuses on something that we’ve taken to heart in terms of culturally sustaining pedagogy and that is something that’s really critical, and the work that we do. We often have Native youth that come into our programs and it’s very sad to hear that they don’t feel Indian enough, and we wonder why that is. And it’s often because they feel judged by the Western world who defines what native or Indian is very differently from how we define it. And so it’s very critical that and all the work that we do. We look at native cultures as evolving and dynamic and that we’re not stuck in the past are not static. And so everything we do is about how our youth define their identity in the future and how those things while they may be objects of the past, it’s the people are people that give them meaning and how they’ll be used in the future.And that’s my time. Um, so I think we have a contact slide as well. Feel free to contact me with any questions. Thank you.
Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham: Right Up next we have Lisa Sasaki no Dimitri. Dimitri Broxton
Demetri Broxton: Hi everyone I’m Dimitri Broxton on the Senior Director of Education at mo. Add in San Francisco. Our mission is up here for you so mad as a contemporary art museum.We celebrate Black cultures Ignite challenging conversations and inspire learning through the global lens of the African diaspora.
Before I get into our specific programs.The museum is located in downtown San Francisco and the Yerba Buena arts district.We opened in 2005 so we’re a 15-year-old institution.That shares our neighbor our neighborhood has other museums. We’re right next door to SF MoMA across the street from you ever witnessed Center for the Arts and also across the street from the Contemporary Jewish Museum. So we’re in a museum hub and downtown Oakland downtown San Francisco, but we are not located in the community of the people that we serve, it’s I think it’s important to understand for folks who are not from the Bay Area or from San Francisco that San Francisco’s population of African Americans has been on the decline for several decades now.
The peak African American population in San Francisco was at 13% and 1970And it’s been rapidly declining ever since we’re around 5% in the city of San Francisco right now. So it’s really important to have mo ads presence and downtown San Francisco to give you opposite, you know, some alternate views I’m born and raised in live in Oakland, California where in 1980 the African American population was at 46% and currently it’s at 28% so still declining but significantly higher.We started off as a museum focused on art history and culture of the African diaspora and 2014 we set the museum down to do a remodel, and at that time, we also shifted to focusing on contemporary art.
Next slide, please. Definitely.
Something to talk about the museum pre-COVID and post-COVID and how our work has changed, given the current climate that we’re in.And so yeah, so you can see the image right here is from one of our free days. Our largest free daySorry reading comments. So that’s the MLK free day where we have the highest amount of visitors ship out of the entire year. Obviously, that has changed and the current climate. If you go to the next one.So the program that I’m in charge of the education program.Where we engage thousands of mostly youth throughout the year. Some of our signature programs are the will to adorn program. The program that we started in 2017You may be familiar with the title of that it’s a partnership with the Smithsonian center for folklife and culture and after the first pilot year we shifted to call the program will to adorn remix to focus on hip hop and really engage our local communities, our students come from all over.
The Bay Area’s nine counties.Our group tours program is our largest source of bringing especially young people into the museum. Each year we see about 10,000 visitors through the group tours program about half of them come in the month of February. So during Black History Month.So we see thousands of people every single week during the month of February. We’ve also been for the last three years doing an event called the engaged symposium. It centers are exhibitions that are on view.And sorry, and there’s this last year we had 140 attendees. If you’ve ever been to my at our, our salon where we hold our public programs has a max of 110 people stay seated. So we actually had an overflow.Our other program our signature program bought in the classroom like Nicole’s program we focus mostly on third graders. So we had 1300 and 50 students and this year’s program.
We go out to Title I schools. We’re currently in 41 classrooms at 19 different schools throughout the Bay Area. Next slide.And our exhibition. So prior to the quarantine and the shelter in place. We were set to mount the for exhibitions that you see right now we’re focusing on local artists.That hadn’t been stone much in the Bay Area. So Mary. Lovely.
So Neil, who is a legend recently had a show in New York City. David Huffman who’s also located here and Berkeley. As well as Sam Vernon, who is an Oakland-based artist and our emerging artists program, which was set to showcase Sydney cans work. So our programs.
Through the exhibitions we do not have a curator on staff. We also don’t have a permanent collection so mode works with independent curators a lot of them are emerging curators and some of them like Dex Dex or one really are, Larry. Oh, segments are established curators that bring content to us. Next slide.And our public programs. This is just to give you a quick overview of last year’s programs.We had 73 programs so multiple programs every single week.About 7500 visitors came through those and you can see the different partnerships that we had to build those public programs so mode is really a catalyst for bringing different community organizations and to showcase the work that they do. And we also have different partners through Kaiser Permanente target your Brooklyn arts district and whole assortment of small foundations as well support us. Next slide.And so now I’m going to look at what we’ve been doing since the shelter in place, and we’ve had to move everything to online, which is also presented an opportunity for us as well.Mo add being in downtown San Francisco. I talked about our demographics. It’s where we’re not geographically close to the communities that we’re representing and so the shift to online has really changed our reach. Next slide.
So in the education department we pretty quickly shifted to online programming. We started off by doing online workshops. These are all free, available on our website. We’ve started to do these weekly programs where we start to bring in artists and we do these virtual artists visits to their studio even though the museum was closed. We’re still bringing artists into the museum.And presenting their content that they’ve been working on and the shelter in place. We’ve also began to do virtual tours. So taking exhibitions that we’ve had over the last 15 years and bringing them back out.
So that people can learn about them and can still explore them and we use we use the zoom platform to engage folks coming up soon we’re going to be able to have. And yes, we do give stipend to all the artists.And we’re also going to be working with john Santos, so the REACH, who, who is doing roots of Latin American music and throughout the African diaspora.And. Next slide.In terms of exhibitions, obviously, we can’t have people in the museum right now. So we’ve been really turning to figure out how we can bring exhibitions online.
One of the things that we’ve done recently is work with artists of the African diaspora to do benefit action from low as you can see some of the numbers we had hoped to raise $250,000 in the section, we actually raised 400 over 450,000All the artists donated their work to support the museum in turn for those who are familiar with the art world, the artists also get this elevated status and their prices also began to rise as well. And then my last slide.And our public programs have continued. So we’re actually probably doing more of the public programs more than 73 now, now that we are going completely virtual. The issue is with our physical space. We were really only reaching our local audience, but now with the online.
Virtual Public Programs, we’ve been able to reach participants from the African continent all over Europe and all across the United States.You can see some of these right here. We started off with this community resilience program pretty early on in the process. Back in March.Talking about black maternal health during the code crisis. We’ve also continue to expand our Stephen residence program.With Brian Terry and so he does programs on at least two a month that are online. And we’ve also been working with other partners like Sarah Monica.Who is doing these series that happen every single month talking with different creatives around the world? So we’ve been really able to expand our mission through the online. And that’s my time.
Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham: Thank you too big. And so now we’ll have Lisa sucky
Lisa Sasaki: Hello everybody, I’m Lisa Saki I’m the director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. I should also mention that I spent a lot of time in California working at the Japanese American National Museum and the Oakland Museum of California, so shout out to everybody in California right now.
What I wanted to do is just to tell you a little bit about the center, we are very much like mo I bow and we are log collecting museum.Are part of this facility. We were created 23 years ago to help the Smithsonian tell more diverse stories.But it’s been setting specifically talking about everything that we’re going to do, or that we do on a day-to-day basis. I wanted to hone in on a particular response that we’ve been doing as a result of coven 19. So next slide.What you can see here is a pretty shocking headline from NBC News that states that over 30% of Americans have with this coven it biased against Asian Americans.In fact, when you think about it, it’s pretty shocking that one in three Americans have seen something that has targeted Asian Americans in a month there was a report of over 1500 instances of harassment of verbal and physical harassment that came in in New York City alone.
If this sort of statistics surprises you, I would actually ask all of you if you happen to have any Asian American staff people. If you reach out to them and ask them what they’ve experienced, you will be very, very hard-pressed to find somebody who has it themselves experience of this sort of bias.Or knows of somebody within their family or friends or networks that hasAnd I think what this points out to all of us is, first of all, this isn’t the first time that this has happened to Asian American communities with whether it was Yellow Peril.
The Japanese American incarceration during World War Two or the anti-Muslim sentiment that took place after 911And what this sort of says to us, is he noted quote actor Georgiou who did an op-ed piece to the LA Times recently that coven it has reminded Asian Americans. That are blogging is conditional that are the myth of the quiet American or the model minority is actually not an adequate shield or protection against a group when faced with a national crisis like this.So what we have to do at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American center is to think really hard about what was our response going to be on behalf of the Smithsonian.
On behalf of the communities around the country who are experiencing this. And so what I wanted to do is just tell you a little bit about what we created over pretty much a six-week period that’s as much time as we had to develop everything that you see here.So this is another challenge to everybody. If you think you don’t have enough time to do a response. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. And that’s what we did in six weeks in order to do what we what we are going to present right now, which is get flight.
We started off. First of all, with a care package, we felt that it was really super important first to acknowledge the humanity of our community.And the fact that so many of us were under stress. And it wasn’t just from the harassment that was coming, but also from the impacts of coded the shutdowns the unemployment.That we’ve all seen and heard of that in order for our community to be able to address the Xena phobia that we receive we need a strong and healthy community that was focused on first taking care of itself before it can take care of others. So we put out this a digital care package. It was curated by one of our curators Adrian Lewis who is our curator of digital and emerging practice and he brought together an amazing and beautiful collection of meditations, art, poems, reflections for people to be able to interact with safe and carry all of them like space online.
We then decided how important it is to be able to expand this care into the field of learning and so we utilized our learning together website, which is our educational portal.To provide resources, we felt, first of all, that it was important not to recreate the wheel teaching tolerance had already created some amazing resources for teachers. That talked about how to teach COVID based bias in the classroom. So we didn’t focus our attention on recreating something that was already out there, but we did feel that it was really important to be able to have a voice.Talk about what it meant to teach about this in a classroom.
So we had anti-bias educator Liz KleinrockDo a q&a, you can see that if you go to our website firstname.lastname@example.org slash learn and she talked about why it’s so important for teachers not to ignore bias in the classroom to just think it will go away.Or if they didn’t see it, it doesn’t have an impact, but instead gave really specific ideas and activities that teachers could use in the classroom, to be able to address biased.We have sent us taken that Q AMP. A and we’re now working with Liz to create a ton part webinar series that looks at dismantling Asian American and Pacific Islander stereotypes and bias in the classroom and also at home building that caretakers are now teachers as well. And so we’re going to be launching that shortly. It was this week, but we’ve decided that we’re going to pause on that for just a moment to recognize what’s happening out there in the world. And we’ll pick this up.
After we have all have had a chance to take a deep breath. So next I wanted to share with you a statement that we released at the first of May, May for many of you, as you might be aware is Asia Pacific American Heritage Month and we thought that it was going to be incredibly important for us to be able to take a stand. On behalf of the soldier and on behalf of the Smithsonian and put out a strong statement addressing xenophobia and racism as it related to the Asian Pacific American community. And so I just wanted to share a couple bits of that statement with you. I think the first part that we felt really important when we release. This is to address this issue of other thing.
And that how other A occurs during times of national crisis is that the first thing that they do is target a group of people basically dehumanize them.And manipulate us with a Pilate our anxiety misdirect our interests and our concern.Basically away from the core issues, the core things we should be talking about and we really wanted people to be able to understand this. So regardless of whether it was Asian Pacific Americans. This time, the next time whatever community came under attack.
In this way we wanted people to be able to recognize this. So, that’s fine.And we really wanted to be able to let everybody understand that this isn’t about merely highlighting the trauma of a particular community, but in fact, really reinforce that this is about our shared humanity.And that our ultimate goal is to foster a shared sense of belonging and solidarity across all communities. And we also wanted to foster a sense of the sort of solidarity across the Smithsonian. So not only did we produce these basic digital assets that we put out during this month, but we also partnered with other units across the Smithsonian, whether that was the NationalPostal Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Museum of American History with Ashley Museum of the American Indian of the National Museum of air and space in order to be able to have them also address this.And bring this forward to their constituents and their visitors, many of whom might not realize have this impact of this bug. So that’s what I have to share. And thank you so much and I hope we’re able to hit questions and talk more about this and Q&A.
Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham: Thank you, Lisa. Next up, we’ll have Mikey Cordero
Mikey Cordero: Here, everybody. How you doing, Mike whatever here from the Caribbean culture center African Diaspora Institute.
And we’re good.
I think today, we’re just going to take you through a recent response to going digital with the center. Um, and how our 40 plus year history has kind of prepared us for that.
Next slide please.
Our mission for the center is the creamy called the center Africanized, for instance, to is an arts cultural education and media organization that advocates cultural equity ratio, and social justice for African descendant communities we envision a global landscape where African descendants achieve cultural equity ratio and social justice. And for those of you don’t know a criminologist center, I can. I swear it is to CC ad.
It was founded in 1976 by the doctor and one no Vega. It because one of the first institutions in New York City to showcase African Diaspora artists and creates important stages across the city from Carnegie Hall to Lincoln Center to the Apollo Theater bringing performers like physical epicene bill Italia and send us, among others.
In 1978 responding to. it’s like communities’ desire for a deeper understanding of the African spirituality in the diaspora gotti increases our programming around that subject, and we become one of the first organization to really spotlight and highlight and highlight African religious culture, like the YouTubers and others.
In 1980 is when we actually add African Diaspora, is it to our name to communicate this international scope and worldview of our work. So we started by naked center. In the 80s and we just recently moved to 120 fifth street in Harlem. I’m in 2016 we will one of the only organizations of color in New York to own a landscape of a landmark space in New York City, which is the firehouse on 125th St. between Park and …
We did a 10-year capital campaign and we raised a 9.3 million because we wanted to be closer to to the community we serve and now we call that home on he’s wanting to 26th Street and advise you.
In 2018 melody couple of day is a plan our executive director and she brings a very exciting. I refresh kind of new vision to God. He’s a future. That actually speaks to what was going on in 2020 right before COVID-19 happened in February of 2020 we had just recently launched a new branding campaign for the center.
After about a year and a half of work on with our board with our communities and really developing a fresh new look to speak to what our communities expected of us and also what they didn’t expect to us so 2020 the end of February actually was when we actually launched that new branding and then in March is when pandemic started and we will kind of thrown into a more speedy process of letting this new brand out and communicating how we’re speaking to our community’s response.
And what I’m about to go into is kind of like an overview of how we responded and what we felt like our community was saying to us that they were that they needed.
So I think for us it was important, as an organization as an institution to really think about cultural preservation during these times, right, during the pandemic. I think history has taught us that pandemics are really a time times in our history where each cultures can be wiped out. Um, and I think that was a consideration and how we approached how our programming was going to digitize itself and how are we going to support our communities. During this time, I’m we decided to do that in kind of three spaces on through curated content edited and people recorded a video programs photography and graphic content.
Another area we decided to do is live events and engagement so live produce content distributed across our, our social media platforms and our website and actually engaging with the audience to live Q and A’s and things like that.And a third space that we provided was a cultural resources so downloadable content for general education to support teachers and students that are staying home during this time and also are critical to center fellowships.
So our curated content consisted of like a series of different shows that kind of represented different areas of cultural preservation that we wanted to communicate.And this content was edited for our media platforms, YouTube, Facebook, Facebook, watch and IPTV and somebody shows include a CCA did chronicles which is a series that we’re going to release soon around the 40 plus year history of the center in New York City. Another series that we released was dice for dining which is a curation of chefs from the diaspora bringing in recipes cultural recipes to people’s homes that they could actually cook during this pandemic.And also we had another curated copies of content around our institutional timeline.And in 2020 in February we relaunched our brand.
We also relaunched a Mini exhibition at the Caribbean culture center that is our institutional timeline and takes people through the 40 plus year history of the center on our wall. And it’s a very engaging kind of interactive piece on our wall that we were very proud of.But sadly, a few weeks later, we had to close the doors. So it was hard for people to actually get into the center and see that so we decided to try to curate that as an online experience across our social media platforms. We also had su su Saturdays which is a long-standing program at the center for family. Family programming at the center that will take place once a month.
And so that is also like a piece of programming that we had so totally digitize and create an online platform and online space for those types of shows through our online through our live events and engagement, our programming events adapted for the live distribution engagement across our video and social media platforms.Again, YouTube Live Instagram my Facebook live to it alive. So we decided to continue our exhibition programming do this to these resources and these platforms through artists talk and virtual panels dice for talks lectures on and also continuing our innovative cultural advocacy fellowship that consistent about 10 photos right now going through a fellowship program to the center that’s in its in seven cycle, I believe.
So that was also something we had to adapt being at the photos we used to coming to the center to take part in this fellowship. So now that fellowship is completely done through zoom where we bring in lectures scholars to guide the fellows to our program. NEXT NIGHT AND OUR CULTURE resources on this was something we’ve been planning for a long time, but it was also expedient through the response to cobra 19 and we knew we had to have create a cultural resource portal on our site.To support our community. There is time and that consisted of education guys for teachers to use with their students during this time at home art-making activities by our teaching artists and other fellows.We also have a collection of 360-degree exhibits online through our YouTube channel and our Google Arts and Culture channel. We also have virtual exhibits that you can also go to online from the center and not only the current exhibit which is the color of power. They will share rose and I think we have about four other x x and exhibits available for people to explore virtually.
Um, and then we had a kind of Rolodex of artists support resources on how to support our artists, because not only do we advocate and share artists from our communities, but we also like to support with opportunities for those artists and these artists were definitely hit because of Kobe 19 and the pandemic. Um, and we knew that we also had to provide some resources and some of those resources.Included like funding resources for artists opportunities for artists to create online content for institutions for us and things like that.Next, like had this conversation with Stephanie actually around, you know, culturally specific versus culturally responsive.In regards to like this panel. And I think you know God. He really thinks there’s an additional role we play as cultivators ourselves.And in order to ensure our program for some bond. So our cultural advancement and that we create space for our communities to be parted is and support the agency.
And just like some of the other organizations that are part of this panel. We don’t. We also don’t have collections and a lot of our curators are yes curators, we don’t have a Korean on staff. And, I think that allows us to be a little bit more responsive to like the community needs. Especially like right now and what’s happening right now. We have, we are organizing a virtual exhibit a response to the recent uprisings.And Minneapolis reps risings the murder of George boy and others.So that’s kind of an example of our cultural responsiveness.
During this time, that is, I think, an additional go on top of being culturally specific and making sure that our communities are involved and we highlight their agency in our cultural advancement, along with showcasing and highlighting our historical, cultural history.
So yeah, culturally responsive. You know that he was a pedagogy that makes meaningful connection between what communities experience at our space and it cultures languages, and life experiences and now we’re just trying to translate that to our virtual spaces and online experience and user experience online for our communities and keep it in mind that a good percentage of the center’s communities are elders and I think technology is always kind of like a learning curve.With that group and we were very intentional around how we rolled out our kind of virtual space and allowed for nobody to be left behind.
Next slide, please. And I think recently our digital strategy kind of revolved around I’m narrative that’s how the full story of God is for your history, our campaigns or programs or exhibition and our projects.To make sure that our, our history. Our history is preserved through our branding and our communications and we’re engaging new audience through a contemporary social media platforms.That support us and meeting our patron and our programming objectives we optimize our web presence to nurture leads and to lead people in our communities to the resources that they want and that they asked him for, um, and we also hold our programming to really digitize our programming in a way that creates a somewhat equal experience as two people coming to our center and I come into our space to experience it.Um, and, yeah, that’s all I got. Thank you.
Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham: Thank you all so much for sharing about your institutions, I think we have time for questions. And so definitely happy to take some as well. So we have a question box here. That we can begin to answer.Alright.Alright, so the first question is for Lisa. Lisa, I don’t know if you can see it, but I can see it on my end. So it says thank you for your presentation does the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center have programs or opportunities for youth to engage with the museum field experiences specific to APA culture and history.
Lisa Sasaki: So we do have a fairly robust internship program where we bring in interns for a session, we like to really focus on the learning experience. So versus having them like staple and photocopyThey have a research project that they do, they present to the Smithsonian staff at the end of their research and their time with us, we would really love to be able to expand that to have a more robust you know program within the Smithsonian. I think the hard thing for us is just to let you know I have a staff of 10So we’re one of the smallest units within the Smithsonian. We have a lot of exciting things happening. And a lot of things that we would like to do, including addressing specifically you
Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham: Thank you. Second question. This is, I think, open for anyone. From Zoe. Do you have a sense of who is using your educational guides and resources right now and how I’m thinking about how families, schools, communities are accessing and remixing all the resources in the digital ecology right now to meet their specific needs? So again, anyone can answer you can unmute and answer.
Demetri Broxton: Yeah, I guess I just want to kind of start that one-off. So we shifted to online art workshops, specifically, and soThrough the zoom platform, we are able to see who is accessing and so I think there was a slow, you’re going to chat it with some folks about this. There was a slow rollout for a lot of the schools. Because, as we know, most of the schools that predominantly serve students of color are the lower resource schools and so their families are also Laura resourced and so there’s been a slow rollout of those communities gain access to the appropriate technologies and connections to access but we have seen over the last couple weeks more and more classrooms starting to roll that roll these out as you know, asking their students to login so we are serving our local community and folks across the country. And so we’re starting toBe able to track those better and you have to make sure that people register, you know, so there’s a there’s a distinguishing factor, where some of our workshops. You want everyone to access them. And so we can’t see who is logging on. But if we do have it to where they have to register, then we can see specifically where they’re coming from.
Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham: Thank you. Alright so next question says how can diaspora museums distinguished themselves so that they don’t resemble every other Museum in that diaspora. Mikey, do you want to jump in. Unmute
Mikey Cordero: I’m sure. I mean, I think.I think what has happened recently has kind of forced museums, especially for museums to kind of distinguish themselves. I think, you know, I think, to meet you scroll to this, you know, you know, We’re very you’re very famous in your community. Right. But I think what Colin has done is introduced us to a larger broader community and there’s definitely like needs that we’re meeting and I think every institution is kind of doing its own way they all have their own way. Right. They all have their own way of communicating with their community that has translated I kind of had advance or adapted for a more larger community now. To be inclusive of that. So I think by default, like what’s happening now is actually causing diasporic institutions. To really focus on how to communicate and how to distinguish themselves, not only with their communications but also like the programming that offering. You know, I think the programming. It’s in the program, you were able to distinguish themselves different amongst each other.
Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham: Right. And Dimitri.
Demetri Broxton: Um, yeah. I mean, you know, I agree with what Mikey said, we also, you know, we both have our museums or our institutions deal with very similar content, but we’re on opposite coasts. So by default, we’re already steeped in very different cultures locally. So, you know, I don’t know that we necessarily need to distinguish ourselves you know as Mikey was talking, I was like, wow, we should actually be partnering more instead of trying to, you know, fight for audience members. We can we can actually work together because we have a lot of crossover and our programming. So, you know, I’d rather focus on building more Coalition’sEspecially when we’re talking about diaspora, not just nationally but you know our communities are dispersed globally so. So how do we come together to build programs in a unified manner.
Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham: I agree. All right. We also have a question for Nicole here. Hi Nicole, you talked about decolonization. How would you go about the process of decolonization in US News us museums, how can we bring in change and shift thinking on this?
Nicole Lim: And there’s lots of different decolonization strategies. I think that it’s something that you have to hit at multiple levels, if not every level. Native people need to have a role in decision-making within the museum programming. But collections and Native people need to be brought in for partnerships and that can be very complex, especially if your institution doesn’t have a great history. Working with the tribal people in your area. So I think that you have to have meaningful collaboration invite people build trust over time. I think that native people have to be valued. A lot of times, museums don’t budget to pay cultural educators or artists and so there’s lots of different ways that decolonization can be achieved. But it has to be a pretty comprehensive strategy and meaningful partnerships.
Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham: Okay, looks like we only have time for one more question. Because, um, there’s a hard stop at 230. So the next question says thank you for all your presentations on your museums. 336Could any or all of you speak to how you’re measuring the success of your remote programs. What are your criteria for success? And again, any or all of you can
Lisa Sasaki: I can kick that off. I think museums overall have struggled with how you evaluate and assess digital programs. I think the tendency is to go simply by clicks and hits. How many people have watched your video? How many people are participating, if you get one point we had 388 participants on the zoom call. Does that mean or a success? I’m not quite sure. I think one of the things we have to talk about like within our care package was just because it didn’t go viral. Does that mean that it was a failure with somebody, people were responding to us personally saying how wonderful and how impactful. The care package was I think it’s this is a challenging question that we’re all going to have to work on, especially the new normal of museums, where we’re going to be doing a lot more work. And I think changing some of our assessment strategies to be able to address that is going to be idle, just because you didn’t go viral, doesn’t mean your work. You know, is it successful and vice versa. Okay.
Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham: This is actually a really good question. I’m trying to going to try to sneak in. Would I would be interested if some of the panelists can share how your communities are working to support those with limited access to internet during COVID?
Demetri Broxton: What’s Nicole gonna go, I just want to say like, at least for my program we’ve been really working with the school districts that have resources for those who are under-resourced. But, you know, a big challenge has continued to bet to be parents who are essential workers and often parents who are English language learners or just don’t speak English at all and trying to reach them. So we’ve been reaching out and trying to figure out strategies for how we can get to the specific classrooms that we have connections with and I think it’s going to be this ongoing process that we’re all going to be working over the next few months as this at least reduced ability to reach audiences is happening. I know some of the senior centers around here are trying, but you know, it’s just, you’ve got to have people on the ground, going out and I know can Nicole’s also has some techniques or some methods, they’ve been using. Yeah.
Nicole Lim: Yeah, we were fortunate that our community is small, in that respect, and we have had staff members go out, especially to some of our elder’s homes and bring cameras and set up their equipment. A lot of times the equipment is outdated. We’re also have a statewide assessment on Native students and the impact coven has had on their needs. And so a lot of it has been trying to identify what resources are needed, and then to go ahead and target funding strategies to supplier.
Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham: Alright. Great. Well, thank you all so much, again, and thank you for the almost 400 people who joined us throughout the country today for this really important critical conversation and hopefully, we’ll be able to continue it. Thank you.