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Hearings Planned in Aftermath of Museum of Fine Arts Incident

June 18, 2019 4:07 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

Reposted from the Boston Herald

The City Council will hold hearings about promoting “diversity and inclusion in Boston’s arts institutions” following an uproar about how black students were treated at the Museum of Fine Arts last month.

“At too many of these important institutions, visitors of color are often viewed with suspicion, treated with contempt, or even taunted with racial epithets,” City Councilor Kim Janey said Wednesday as she introduced a resolution calling for hearings. “This is bigger than any one incident. It is time for us to have a broader conversation on race, inclusion and diversity in the arts.”

MFA spokeswoman Karen Frascona told the Herald that representatives from the museum will attend when there is a hearing, which is still to be scheduled.

Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy students and teachers said they were met with racist remarks and felt like they were being followed by security during their midweek visit, and reported the incidents to MFA staff, teacher Marvelyne Lamy told the Herald in late May.

After investigating the incident, the museum apologized to the Dorchester school and students. The MFA banned two patrons who administrators said made racist comments.

“These young people left the Museum feeling disrespected, harassed and targeted because of the color of their skin, and that is unacceptable,” MFA Director Matthew Teitelbaum said at the time. “This is a fundamental problem that we will address as an institution, both with immediate steps and long-term commitments. I am deeply saddened that we’ve taken something away from these students that they will never get back.”

“There is no way to definitively confirm or deny what was said or heard in the galleries. Regardless, the MFA is committed to providing additional training for all frontline staff on how to engage with incoming school groups about policies and guidelines,” the museum said.

The museum said it would train guards on patrolling and engaging with visitors, and would provide staff with unconscious bias training. The MFA also said it would hold roundtables on these issues with community members.

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