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Core Concept Primer: DEAI is an ongoing journey without a fixed endpoint

Category: Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion
Graphic with text: Excellence in DEAI 2022 Report from the Excellence in DEAI Task Force

The Excellence in DEAI Report includes four Core Concepts, and overarching themes of excellence in diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI). Each Core Concept includes Key Indicators, and tactical practices indicative of progress in each Core Concept. These primers serve as introductions to each Core Concept to help you spur conversation and action that advances excellence in DEAI at your museum.

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Excellence in DEAI Report

Core Concept: DEAI is the responsibility of the entire organization

Core Concept: DEAI demands an ongoing commitment of resources

Core Concept: DEAI work must be measured and assessed

Core Concept:

DEAI is an ongoing journey without a fixed endpoint.

A museum’s DEAI work should be a process of continual assessment, recognizing and reflecting the changing environment not just within the institution’s walls but in the wider world. No singular policy change or anti-oppression action can encompass the entirety of this work, thus transforming organizational culture and operationalizing equity must be a permanent, cross-functional element of museum management and administration.

The work of becoming more diverse, equitable, accessible, and inclusive shifts with both the needs of the museum and its communities, as well as with the shifting American demographics and overall social landscape. The communities that museums serve are dynamic and multifaceted, so the DEAI work that is undertaken should reflect that and constantly look for new areas of iteration and improvement.

Key indicators indicative of progress in this core concept are:

  1. Take a holistic approach, integrating DEAI into all aspects of the museum’s operations through a process of assessment, reflection, capacity building, iteration, and measurement.
  2. Publicly commit to the ongoing work of transforming organizational culture and dismantling systems of inequity within individual museums and the communities they serve, the museum sector, and society broadly.

Tools/Guides

Helpful Articles

DEAI Plans

Summary

To embark on the journey of DEAI work is, in part, to understand that the work is never done and there are always areas where our field can improve. This can sometimes mean facing hard truths about the harmful and oppressive practices museums have helped perpetuate, and addressing and remediating that harm will involve action at every level of your museum’s organizational structure—board members to volunteers and everyone in between. Most museums have benefited in some way from the harm caused by centuries of systemic oppression and violence against people from marginalized backgrounds and need to commit to undoing that harm. Because every museum is unique, each must determine the best place to start for their institution acknowledging that this work is iterative and without an endpoint.

Read more on this Core Concept and find additional resources in the Excellence in DEAI Report.

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