INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FORCULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
Reposted from Artnet News
In New York, Memorial Day weekend concluded the month of May with three rather cold, rainy days—and yet that didn’t stop museum goers, buoyed by relaxed health restrictions and pent-up social energy, from getting out and seeing art, apparently.
Visitors flocked to many of New York’s major museums last weekend in numbers not seen since before the onset of the pandemic. Some even posted attendance figures in line with those of previous years.
If there was concern among these institutions about the city’s appetite to return after months of restrictions, the holiday surely brought some hope. “This was by far the highest weekend attendance that we’ve seen since our August 2020 reopening,” a representative from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) said, noting that the institution, now operating at full capacity, saw 9,000 visitors on Saturday and Sunday. That figure is actually higher than what MoMA registered on Memorial Day 2019.
For its part, the Metropolitan Museum of Art welcomed more than 10,000 visitors on each of the holiday weekend’s three days, a spokesperson told Artnet News. Those are the highest numbers the institution has logged since the lockdown in March 2020, and roughly double that of those just two months ago.
“With the visitor and security teams stepping up to meet the increased demand,” the spokesperson said, “great joy was had by our visitors on a very rainy weekend.”
The Met is currently operating at half capacity, but due to the size of the museum, that doesn’t actually have a significant impact on ticket numbers, the rep explained. Still, these tallies represent just half of what the institution—one of the city’s biggest tourist destinations—would pull in before the crisis.
Last month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that, starting May 19, museums, among other venues, could once again operate at full capacity, so long as visitors had space to maintain social-distancing protocols. Few institutions in the city have embraced the opportunity as fully as MoMA—yet attendance milestones were nevertheless commonplace over the weekend.
The Whitney Museum (operating at 50 percent capacity) brought in 9,000 guests, which was among its highest weekend totals in the pandemic, a representative said. Meanwhile, ticket sales at the Jewish Museum (at 35 percent capacity) were double what they were weeks ago. “With the strong showing for the museum over Memorial Day weekend, and as more people are vaccinated and feel comfortable visiting museums again, we are hopeful attendance will continue to increase,” a representative for the museum said in a statement.
Over the weekend, the New Museum also scored its highest two-day attendance total since reopening in September 2020. Notably, the institution’s “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America” exhibition, curated by the late Okwui Enwezor, has regularly garnered figures that rival “pre-pandemic attendance levels” since opening in February, a spokesperson said—and that’s with the site operating at an unspecified “reduced” capacity. “The [museum] has been humbled by the response.”
Good vibes aside, these blue-chip institutions in New York are of course not representative of the larger landscape of American museums, especially on the issue of visitorship. A survey released this week by the American Alliance of Museums found that, on average, venues are registering just 41 percent of pre-pandemic attendance numbers. Nearly one-third of museums across the country have yet to reopen at all.
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Reposted from The New York Times
The Smithsonian Institution, which reopened eight of its Washington-area institutions this month, on Wednesday announced a schedule to bring back the rest of its museums closed by the pandemic — including two in New York — by the end of August.
The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York will open on June 10. Admission will be free through Oct. 31, but tickets must be reserved online in advance.
“Willi Smith: Street Couture,” which opened briefly before the museum was shuttered by the pandemic, will be extended through Oct. 24. “Contemporary Muslim Fashions,” organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, will be on view through July 11.
The National Museum of Natural History in Washington will open its doors on June 18, followed by the Smithsonian’s other New York City location, the National Museum of the American Indian, on June 23.
July will bring four more Washington reopenings: The National Museum of African Art and the Freer Gallery of Art on July 16, followed by the National Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian Institution Building, known as the Castle, on July 30. (The Sackler Gallery of Art, which shares a building with the Freer Gallery, will be closed until November because of exhibition construction.)
The final batch, in August, includes the Anacostia Community Museum on Aug. 6, the Hirshhorn Museum on Aug. 20 and the National Postal Museum on Aug. 27.
The Smithsonian also announced a grand reopening in November of the Arts and Industries Building, which has been closed to the public since 2004. A new free exhibition, “FUTURES,” will celebrate the Smithsonian’s 175th anniversary by showcasing nearly 150 objects, including an experimental Alexander Graham Bell telephone, a Covid-friendly support robot that reduces loneliness and a video game that can be played using the eyes. It will be on view through July 2022.
Visitors will need to reserve free timed entry passes online for most locations, which will be available beginning a week before an institution’s scheduled reopening. A Smithsonian spokeswoman said capacity will vary, but will start around 25 percent, and then increase when the Smithsonian believes it can safely accommodate more visitors.
Additional precautions will also be in place: The museums will require facial coverings for everyone ages 2 and older, though fully vaccinated visitors will not be required to wear them in outdoor spaces. Some sites will reduce their hours, and some museum cafes and retail stores may be closed.
The Smithsonian had reopened eight of its Washington-area museums between July and October of last year, but it was forced to close them again at the end of November when coronavirus cases increased across the country. The Institution’s other museums have all been closed since March 2020.
New York and Washington both began allowing museums to operate at full capacity last week, though a six-foot social distancing requirement remains in place.
Reposted from The Art Newspaper
Fewer art and cultural heritage works were stolen in Italy in 2020 compared with the previous year, according to the annual report of the Carabinieri TPC, the country’s police force dedicated to recovering stolen art. The drop was partly caused by the pandemic, which also forced dealers in stolen art online, but is part of a longer-term downward trend driven by increasingly high-tech security and surveillance technology, General Roberto Riccardi, the head of the unit, tells The Art Newspaper.
The report reveals that 287 works were stolen in 2020, down from 345 in 2019 and 474 in 2018. Meanwhile, the Carabinieri recovered 501,574 items worth an estimated €333.6m in 2020 (including 1,085 paintings and 7,460 sculptures), compared with 902,804 items worth €103.5m in 2019 (including 796 paintings and just 146 sculptures) in 2019. The force recovered 12,181 items in online searches in 2020, up from 8,732 in 2019.
“The impact of Covid-19 [on the figures] cannot be excluded. Places of worship, museums, galleries and libraries were all closed for long periods, thus reducing opportunities for thieves to steal works,” Riccardi says. With markets such as antiques shops and auction houses closed, the Carabinieri ramped up online searches. “Stolen work turned up in digital auction catalogues as well as on websites and Facebook pages. Dealers were often unaware that they were handling stolen works,” he says.
Searches via the Carabinieri’s electronic catalogue of 1.3 million stolen goods, which is the oldest and largest such database in the world, will soon be enhanced with an automated system that will scour the internet for matching works. The pilot programme, which is being developed with a €5m grant from the EU and will be made available to Interpol, should be operational by the end of next year. In another pilot scheme, the Carabinieri are collaborating with the Pompeii Archaeological Park to develop a state-of-the-art drone-based surveillance system, which will be a model for other similar sites.
Using satellite images and footage taken from helicopters and drones, the Carabinieri completed an investigation of looters operating in an Ancient Greek archaeological site in Calabria; the investigation led to 23 arrests and the recovery of 104 items in several countries.
Reposted from Security Management
Connected physical security equipment, like networked surveillance cameras and smart access control systems, offer many advantages for facility and safety managers responsible for securing the premises of retail, industrial, government, and other organizations. Integrated IP-video recording systems with cloud-based recording and administration features are popular among users with little time to purchase and integrate different camera, cabling, and video storage hardware.
Research on this physical security slice of the Internet of Things (IoT) device market and real world events, however, show adoption of these systems introduces complex cyber risk issues.
In 2020, our Forescout Research Labs team set out to identify the top 10 riskiest IoT devices as part of an exhaustive study analyzing 8 million devices across more than 500 enterprise deployments. We looked at factors like the frequency and severity of vulnerabilities discovered in these platforms and unique risks posed by where and how they are typically installed. Physical access control systems were the riskiest class of devices. Building HVAC systems came in second, and connected camera systems came in third. The fact that in-demand physical security and camera systems claimed two of the top three categories shows the scale and stakes of cyber risk management around these systems.
These risks must be assessed and handled jointly, typically by otherwise very different teams focused on the safety of employees and facilities versus the security of corporate networks and data. Here are a few crucial principles to bear in mind.
Who Will Own the Devices—and Their Attack Surface?
Physical and cybersecurity professionals need to collaborate more than ever because they are both accustomed to the relentless change and consequences of risks to business operations, particularly more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic.
Connected cameras are a great example of where these worlds collide. A facility manager might have the authority to evaluate, purchase, and deploy cameras—working almost exclusively with the camera vendor to take delivery of the devices, install them via Wi-Fi on the network, and set-up credentials to remotely administer the system’s footage and recordings.
While this sounds like an isolated project, in reality each of those cameras add new computing devices to the network with their own operating system, IP stack, and other software features. Any of these can contain vulnerabilities or otherwise expand the total digital attack surface falling under cybersecurity teams’ responsibility.
A well-managed deployment is a secure deployment, so establish up-front who is responsible for data and imagery these devices gather, versus their security footprint. In practice, this means physical and cybersecurity teams identifying where cameras will be physically be installed and ensuring they have a grasp of which networks the cameras will need to access as part of the deployment. It is important to make sure network segmentation is in place isolating cameras and other IoT devices away from more sensitive facility equipment and IT assets.
Keep an Eye on Third-Party Risk
Today, the reality with connected cameras and other physical security controls is you are seldom buying just a camera, badge reader, metal detector, or other hardware. There is usually a private cloud or other networked function embedded by the equipment’s manufacturer. Sometimes, this connectivity is an active feature set—like the ability to view and manage devices on the fly from a mobile app. Other times, connectivity is more hidden. A vendor may require the device to access the Internet through your network for things like warranty eligibility or product updates.
The common denominator is you end up opening your network to an entire third-party ecosystem, whether you realize it or not. Users ignore this risk at their peril; it cannot go unmanaged.
In the case of the recent Verkada camera breach, for example, an intruder was able to obtain login credentials that let them access Verkada’s independent back-end cloud platform. This, in turn, meant the intruder could peer into the video feeds of numerous Verkada camera systems deployed around the world—unbeknownst to those customers.
Verkada is simply one high-profile case. These types of cloud-powered camera systems are used everywhere and have clear deployment, usability, and performance advantages. Do not lose sight of the fact that you inherently shoulder increased third-party risk when you bring service providers on your network, meaning you need to understand how you and the vendor will handle things like credentials and data storage.
Security Devices Should Never Gain Automatic Trust
As IoT-driven physical safety and surveillance devices expand in features and computing power, the most important principle is to never grant devices automatic or special privileges simply because of their security labeling.
If we look inside their code and hardware, these devices function much like video-conferencing systems, smart thermostats, building automation tools, and other nontraditional devices long known to need strong zero trust security policies. Zero trust means you account for every device on the network, do not extend access privileges simply because something has connected previously, and monitor device behavior so you can take action if something begins behaving strangely.
No technology is perfect and cyber risk management is all about risk tolerance, trade-offs, and mitigating what you can. This includes risks to people and property like fires and burglaries, as well as digital threats to employee data, priceless trade secrets, or corporate reputations. Buyers of connected physical surveillance systems must weigh these risks and ultimately use mitigations like network segmentation to demonstrate that while these devices can enhance needed physical protections, measures are in place to keep irreplaceable data out of the blast radius should cameras, gates, or motion sensors be employed in an attack.
In an unusual move, the Whitney Museum of American Art announced that it would voluntarily recognize employees’ petition to unionize.
The decision, which comes nearly two weeks after about 180 workers at the museum filed a petition to join the Technical, Office, and Professional Union of Local 2110, was first reported by Jacobin magazine on May 28. The Whitney staffers are the latest in a wave of museum workers to organize—but part of a very small group to have seen their unions voluntarily recognized by their employer in short order.
“We respect the desire of our colleagues to engage in a dialogue about collective bargaining, as is their legal right, and we remain committed to supporting all staff, regardless of affiliation,” a representative for the Whitney Museum said in a statement.
The Whitney staff’s unionization comes at a time when the museum has cut back on staff amid pandemic-induced budget shortfalls. In February, 15 staffers across 11 departments were cut in an effort to address $23 million in losses. That downsizing followed an earlier round in April 2020 when 76 employees, most of whom worked in visitor services-related roles, were laid off.
“The layoffs were a wake-up call to the need for better protection,” Karissa Francis, a visitor-services assistant who has helmed the unionization effort, said in a statement. “We realized we would have to band together to negotiate for better working conditions.”
The Whitney staff’s petition with the National Labor Relations Board coincided with another one filed by the Hispanic Society of America in New York. That museum did not respond to a request for comment on where negotiations stand.
“At many of these institutions, there are corporate boards and highly paid leaders, and yet people on the ground who do the work are paid very low salaries,” Maida Rosenstein, president of UAW Local 2110, which represents the Whitney employees and many other museum workers, told Artnet News when the Whitney first filed its petition.
Employees at museums around the country have been mobilizing to unionize en masse for about two years, with high-profile examples at the New Museum and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York as well as the Philadelphia Museum, the MFA Boston, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. (Like the Whitney, MOCA also voluntarily recognized its union.)
Protests stemming from historically low wages and a lack of job security spurred the first wave of union drives, while mass layoffs and furloughs during the pandemic have sparked a second wave of organizing over the past year.
Reposted from Campus Safety Magazine
The COVID-19 pandemic brought numerous changes to the ways campuses operated, none more so than to the way they communicated. While many campuses used mass notification systems to deal with pressing emergencies, like active shooters, the pandemic presented a long-term challenge that needed to be actively managed. Many campuses quickly realized how ill-prepared they were to deal with this kind of crisis, requiring them to discover creative uses for tools they already had in place.
Mass notification systems went from being a tool used to communicate about an immediate threat on campus, to a primary tool for providing operational updates to people students and staff whether they were on campus or remote. Mass SMS text messaging, push notifications and emails that could reach people on their mobile devices became critical forms of communication. Shifting guidelines and the closing and reopening of campuses required constant interaction and updates. Campus leaders could not afford to have people wait around for the information they needed or to take proper precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus. Rapid, direct communications delivered at regular intervals helped keep people informed and avoided making a bad situation worse.
Those communications also helped organizations get a better sense for how their communities were handling the crisis. Mass notifications sent asking for a confirmation response or with links to symptom surveys allowed campus leaders to know that messages were being read and gave their community members the ability to pre-screen before engaging in campus activities.
Mass notification systems that offered scheduling features also helped campuses welcome people back as they reopened. Recorded audio and text messages could be scheduled to broadcast at regular intervals with health and safety reminders for people to wash their hands, maintain social distance and wear masks.
The ability to customize message text and groups also helped campuses reach the right people with the right information. The instructions given to students were often different than those given to faculty and other staff members. Campus leaders were able to provide updates with flexible messaging options that allowed them to include the latest details about the ongoing situation. Being able to provide clearly outlined information helped to minimize confusion so everyone knew what they should do and when they should be doing it.
As the pandemic continued, many campuses discovered the incident management benefits mass notification systems offer. By sending out notifications that invited key stakeholders to join conference calls and virtual collaboration spaces, organizations were able to get people together quickly who could assess the situation and determine the best course of action.
In a small way, the pandemic has offered campuses the opportunity to familiarize themselves with their mass notification systems in a way they may not have been before. Understanding the full capabilities of their tools will make campuses better positioned to prepare for and address future emergencies as normal operations resume.
Security, investigators, and executive protection professionals around the world appreciate the evolution and advancement in technology that have added to their daily everyday carry. But with new operational requirements and threats, security professionals need to be creative with the items they add to their daily use.
For instance, the use cases for unmanned systems are only limited to the imagination and the legal operating theater. Within North America, there are laws, regulations, and licensing requirements that need to be met to operate an unmanned aerial system (UAS)—commonly referred to as a drone. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transport Canada– Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs), and Mexico’s Directorate General of Civil Aeronautics (DGCA)—all have similar rules. For example, all drones weighing more than 250 grams (.55 pounds) must be registered with the countries’ relevant agencies before being used.
Elsewhere in the world, laws and regulations around the use of UAS did not exist and it was a bit of a “wild west” operating within a legal grey zone. Now, however, these rules are beginning to emerge. In Africa, only a handful of countries have regulations with regards to UAS use. Algeria is one of them, where authorities will confiscate your UAS when you arrive in the country because they are currently banned.
Despite the myriad of rules and regulations—and the lack of them in some instances—security organizations are beginning to use UAS for surveillance.
In the United Kingdom, for example, in 2016 the newspaper The Echo reported that police used a UAS ahead of a convoy during predawn raids in Liverpool. The UAS used in the morning raid was to assist the operation and to ensure officer safety.
During a presentation a few years later, Inspector Force Coordinator Adam Cooke mentioned the cost savings with regards to UAS operations versus traditional aircraft use. The cost benefit of operating a UAS versus a traditional four-person crew helicopter is apples versus oranges. UAS preparation and cost when compared to traditional aircrafts are in the thousands of dollars. Traditional aircrafts require flight crews, equipment maintenance, and fuel—just to name a few items. UAS operations require the same but a UAS can cost much less than a helicopter or airplane.
Since the Drone Revolution started in 2010, I have had the opportunity to use and manage UAS in some unique ways—including as part of an everyday carry when using micro systems, UAS that weigh less than 250 grams. When used properly, these tools can enhance security practitioners’ capabilities exponentially from help in identifying the best location for a camera, checking perimeter fencing, or inspecting equipment—the sky’s the limit.
When a micro system will not cut it, UAS can be scaled up to fit the need. While operating remotely outside of North America, a team contacted me with a unique problem. They wanted to use a UAS for surveillance ahead of a vehicle convoy to identify threats while the moved some high value cargo. The operational location was essentially an unpopulated no man’s land.
We ultimately decided to use a UAS gas-powered fixed-wing stall landing system with eight hours of flight time, decent cruising speed, and some custom-built optics. The concept was great, however, there was a problem with the existing infrastructure. After some creative problem solving, we were able to launch the operation and the program is still operational with some upgrades thanks to the constant innovation of UAS.
Along with private security teams, wildlife conservation services are also using UAS to combat and surveil poachers and track animals and animal migration patterns. UAS operations globally are even protecting endangered species by protecting not only the endangered animal but also its habitat.
For instance, a logistics company was having issues with last-mile border-crossing attacks. To mitigate the threat, the company’s security director decided to use an off-the-shelf quadcopter to conduct surveillance and keep an eye on the crossing. On more than one occasion, the UAS alerted the security team to contact authorities to take action on an issue while minimizing any losses.
UAS use is also increasing for overseas close protection teams, which are using these systems to advance routes and avoid bad actors. Some security teams are using Unmanned Sea and Underwater Systems to patrol waterways, sub-terrain water system infrastructure, and the hulls of their clients’ boats. There are even some professionals that are using Unmanned Land Systems to perform property inspections, surveillance, and patrols.
Most modern unmanned systems are now intuitive and cost effective. The applications are endless, making it worth consideration for your everyday carry toolbox.
By Patrick Hardy, LL.M. CEM, CBCP, CRM, President - Hytropy.com
The global impact of COVID-19 has required cultural property professionals around the world to adapt quickly and recognize the importance of a robust disaster plan. These plans, when properly designed and implemented on a property, provide the tools necessary to empower staff, volunteers and management to navigate a multi-dimensional disaster response. Without a plan, incident responses are inconsistent, confused, and lacks continuity necessary to maintain the highest service standards. Now that we are at the likely end of the biggest pandemic in 100-years, now is the time to redesign and consider appropriate updates to the emergency response and business continuity program for your property.
Designing a Complete Disaster Plan
A comprehensive property disaster plan at a minimum contains three major elements: The Risk Analysis, the Emergency Response Plan, and the Business Continuity Plan. Each plan represents a separate phase in the emergency preparedness cycle.
Risk Analysis - The Risk Analysis essentially asks one question: “What threats do we face?”. It should identify potential threats to your property’s operation in the categories of natural disasters (i.e.: hurricanes, COVID-19 etc.), technological disasters (i.e.: power outage, HAZMAT spill) and security emergencies (i.e.: terrorism, active shooters). While there is a temptation by experienced cultural property professionals to simply do this by “gut” instinct or from past experiences, the Risk Analysis should be conducted by a multi-prong analysis of data from local, state, and federal sources. Neglecting to do so can miss critical threats. For instance, prior to 2020, few people had a real grasp of the potential for a crippling pandemic, even though the federal government placed pandemics in their National Planning Scenarios as early as 2003. There are additional steps for artifacts, documents, and other culturally significant elements that need to be considered in any comprehensive disaster program.
Emergency Response Plan - The Emergency Response Plan is a comprehensive document covering every element of the initial response to an incident on property. This may be termed the “lights and sirens” phase of an emergency. It should cover evacuation, shelter-in-place, and lockdown of the property, and how to set up an emergency leadership structure. However, the plan must also address crisis communication, utilities, worker injuries, equipment, supplies and training. Most plans cover about 20% of what they really need to be effective and must be improved regularly. Many times, properties only consider how to handle the first 30-60 minutes of an emergency, and do not consider how to handle long-term lockdowns, shelters-in-place, or evacuations. For example, after the Washington Navy Yard shooting in September of 2013, the FBI and other law enforcement officials had most of the buildings sealed as part of a processed crime scene. Even IT professionals, who needed to get their laptops to ensure they could access critical documents, portals and thumb drives were denied the ability to even reenter their own offices.
Business Continuity Plan - The final piece of a property disaster plan is the Business Continuity Plan (BCP), which is a purely recovery document. Any property will have multiple service processes (POS, in-room experience, dining, etc.) that will require a comprehensive recovery examination. However, there are pieces of the BCP that should be incorporated into your Emergency Response Plan, because there are elements of recovery that also fit into a property’s initial response phase, such as recovering utilities and ensuring that generators are set to automatically response during a blackout. BCPs are highly technical documents and should NOT be written by laypeople. They require technical expertise to develop operational recovery times and points that align with a metric of consequence of late recovery for both brick and mortar as well as Information Technology. Exhibits and artifacts that have to be contained within environmentally-controlled units need to develop backups and vendors with continuity capabilities.
Learning the Lessons from COVID-19
Once a comprehensive disaster plan has been designed, constructed, and implemented, it must be put to the test through regular disaster exercises or through the crucible of an actual disaster. COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for many disaster plans to be activated for the first time and put under the stress of an actual emergency. No disaster plan is perfect, nor can it ever be. However, what separates average disaster plans from exceptional plans are those that adapt and improve through a rigorous lessons-learned process after each event. COVID-19 is no different. To prepare adequately for a second wave, cultural property professionals and their management teams must do three things:
Conduct Debriefings with Management and Staff – These are a series of meetings that reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the pandemic response. It should be thorough and cover each part of the response plan no matter how large or small the property, including communication (this is key!), operations, human resources, volunteer management, finance, and initial recovery. For complex properties, this process is not short, and will likely involved multiple meetings over several days. For smaller properties, this can be as short as 20-30 minutes with two or three groups of staff. Regardless, this process should be conducted by someone totally unaffiliated with the property. No exceptions. Management should NEVER lead the meetings, as employees will be extremely reluctant to critique what would be perceived as their supervisor’s policies and procedures.
Complete an After-Action Report – Once the meetings are concluded, a complete report should be written by an Emergency Preparedness Specialist called an “After-Action Report”. This is a document that provides actionable improvement steps on what procedural, functional, and policy modifications need to be made to strengthen the property’s pandemic response. Steps on plan modifications, additional training, equipment, policy adjustments, and other elements of the response should be evaluated independently by an outside specialist to ensure nothing is omitted.
Redraft the Disaster Plan – Once these weaknesses have been corrected, the disaster plan should be fully redrafted with these changes that have been developed. Otherwise, the lessons-learned are useless! The disaster plan will then be improved and grow in operational sophistication as these lessons are implemented into the property.
The COVID-19 Pandemic is an unprecedented challenge to cultural properties worldwide. Property management teams from small properties to large complexes should develop and maintain a sophisticated disaster plan, which includes participation from an experienced Emergency Preparedness Specialist. This plan, if implemented properly, will provide cultural property professionals and their staff the tools to respond to any emergency they face.
Next month marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, which saw the city’s prosperous Greenwood District, home to the historic Black-owned businesses of Black Wall Street, burned to the ground in a deadly blaze. In memory of the victims and survivors, a new history museum and memorial, Greenwood Rising, is slated to open early this summer.
It’s an important moment for a city that for decades did not acknowledge the dark legacy of the massacre and the forces of systemic racism that shaped Tulsa as it rose from the ashes. Until 2019, the state of Oklahoma did not include the massacre as a mandatory part of public school curriculums.
“It’s time for us to stop sweeping this under the rug,” Phil Armstrong, head of Oklahoma’s 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission, which is overseeing the museum project, told Artnet News. “Let us honor the memory of those who lost their lives and the survivors.”
The 1921 massacre in Tulsa was ignited by a news story—later disproven—that a Black man had assaulted a white woman in an elevator. But it was more fundamentally fueled by simmering resentment over the wealth of Greenwood’s residents.
In an attack that gained broad pop culture representation in HBO’s Watchmen in 2019, a white mob killed an estimated 300 Black Tulsans, destroyed the homes of 10,000 others, and caused some $200 million in today’s dollars in property damage, according to academic research.
Determining how to best tell the story of the massacre was a challenging process that evolved over time, particularly over last summer, as Black Lives Matter protests rocked the nation.
“From the onset we’ve been really sensitive to the visitorship who will be coming through, including communities that have been heavily impacted by trauma,” L’Rai Arthur-Mensah, the project director at Local Projects, told Artnet News. “In the aftermath of the George Floyd killing, I came to the team and said, ‘I have a young Black son. I’m worried about how I’m going to be able to engage with the material that we place in this museum.'”
Clearly, this called for a more sophisticated solution than a sign with a trigger warning, telling visitors to enter at their own risk.
That’s why Local Projects created two paths through the exhibition, one of which offered what it dubbed an “emotional exit” offering a less graphic telling of Tulsa’s history. The display will open for all viewers with a recreation of life in Greenwood before the massacre, including a holographic barbershop installation sharing the hopes and dreams of those who called Black Wall Street home.
Visitors will then be able to opt out of the more triggering visuals in the museum’s “Arc of Oppression” section, which details the systemic racism faced by Black Americans, particularly in Tulsa, including the influence of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as a recreation of the chaos of the massacre itself. Projected photographs will showcase the destruction and violence of the deadly incident, paired with audio accounts from some of the survivors.
“A lot of people in the Black community don’t need to relive this history. It’s really about educating others,” Arthur-Mensah said. “So you can go through a separate path where you don’t see all the images or have to stand in the middle of the massacre as it’s happening.”
“We don’t want you to fully bypass the story. You should still understand this history, but you don’t have to trigger yourself in any way to do that,” she added. “You can find ways to educate without traumatizing.”
Regardless of what path visitors take through the galleries, they will end on a note of hope in a section titled “Journey Toward Reconciliation.” The exhibit explores how the community rebuilt after the massacre, how it was fractured again by urban renewal programs in the 1960s and the construction of a highway that split the town into two, and how it united yet again through telling its own story.
“The museum is really highlighting the history of the community and the resiliency of the people,” Arthur-Mensah said.
In telling that history, the Greenwood Rising team worked closely with the community to ensure that local voices were being heard. That included conversations with Tulsa educators, activists, and politicians, as well as a public forum that allowed the community to provide their feedback about how the story of the massacre should be presented.
“There were some hard conversations—when dealing with any sensitive materials, you won’t make everyone happy,” Arthur-Mensah acknowledged. “As designers, it is not our job to tell other people’s stories. It’s our job to provide platforms and vessels so that people can tell their stories for themselves.”
The 7,000-square-foot new museum is just one of the ways in which the community is marking the massacre’s centennial. The Tulsa Race Massacre Commission also runs the Greenwood Art Project, which will open an exhibition featuring 33 Oklahoma-based artists next month, among other programming. Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum of Art currently has two exhibitions inspired by Greenwood history.
“This has not been a bed of roses,” Armstrong admitted. “There’s been a lot of time establishing trust and rapport and credibility with the community, not only among Black citizens, but white citizens [who worried], ‘Was this just another way to try to make white citizens feel guilty for what happened a hundred years ago that they had no part in, creating another echo chamber where nothing really gets done?”
The goal is to make Greenwood Rising “a safe space for healing from racial trauma,” Armstrong added. The museum hopes to offer this not only through its exhibits, but also through additional space for community meetings and programming. The objective is for visitors to come away “not just being lightened and educated on this history, but to leave with a commitment to better racial relations within their own individual lives and take that back to their communities.”
Reposted from AAM
“For museums, the choice is either resilience or irrelevance. When museums see themselves not only as serving their community but as their community, they will undoubtedly be resolute, fortitudinous, adaptive, and unrelenting despite the challenges they face.”
Extraordinary times demand that museums rethink and reposition themselves to be more integral and valued members of their communities. As the pandemic unfolded, societal inequities intensified and revealed structural, philosophical, and ethical weaknesses within museums and cultural organizations. Additionally, it became clear that government agencies and the general public did not view museums as essential players contributing to the vitality of community life.
These stark realities necessitate new approaches to address the loss of public participation, diminished financial resources, and racial inequities, and systemic exclusionary practices in museum workplaces, boardrooms, collections, and programming. Further, climate change and environmental injustices, agile digital strategies, flexible internal operations, and healthy community partnerships are but a few of the realities museums need to acknowledge and address. Unfortunately, many museums are still operating with inflexible mindsets, outdated assumptions and practices, and long-standing traditions that have been immune to critical examination.
This is an opportunity to “go down to the studs,” tackle embedded assumptions and reimagine museums as integral to public vitality and the greater ecosystem of which they are a part. To do so, institutions must rethink holistically—inside out and outside in—and re-envision what they are and what they can be.
Resilience positions museums to nurture more flexible and responsive operating models for a world where disruptions will continue and social and environmental issues will persist. Are museums part of the solution? We believe they are, but we also know that meeting this moment will require more than a pivot; museums will need to undergo transformational change.
What do we mean by resilience? Most definitions of resilience focus on the ability of an organization to bounce back from adversity. Resilience is much more than reacting to events thrust upon us or those of our own making; resilience is about anticipating disruption and generating an array of responses to flourish in the face of change.
Without a strong, strategic foundation from which to grow resilience, institutions are vulnerable to ongoing disruptions. The process of reframing, realigning, and reinventing any museum’s understanding of its work first requires analysis and ownership of its institutional history and current practices. When organizations are able to do this, they harness the awareness needed to build resilient mindsets, values, skills, and relationships that elevate their value in a rapidly evolving world.
The Resilience Model highlights five resilience goals forming a system of tightly interrelated operational components that are the lifeblood of agile, responsive organizations. Immediately surrounding the goals in the diagram at right are six resilient characteristics that institutions must embrace in order to effectively address the constantly changing external realities of the local and global environments in which they operate. The Resilience Model, featured in the resource The Resilience Playbook, outlines five goals, each supported by four plays, that capture a series of actions for museums to undertake the work of becoming resilient. This unprecedented opportunity is the moment to reimagine museum relevancy moving forward.
The Resilience Model is a holistic approach to institutional transformation that addresses the changes needed to establish museum resiliency. It is built on:
Resilient organizations need to move past intention and into action. Resilience is about mindsets and being ever-flexible. “Activate Equity and Inclusion” is Goal 1 because it is central to the success of an institution’s internal and external relationships and current and future resilient decision-making. Equity and inclusion reflect a complex and expansive ideology to be embraced throughout the organization and with their communities.
In the US, in particular, there is an imperative to address racial inequities; however, all diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion work is embraced within this goal. Equity and inclusion efforts require both individual (personal) and institution-wide work.
Commit to Resilience: Center equity and inclusion in all of your decision-making.
The realization that museums were not considered essential at the outset of COVID-19 laid bare that museums have a lot of work to do to earn community respect. Effective community engagement is a long-term commitment based on listening to communities and co-creating strategies that strengthen community vitality. Further, this goal is about shifting the role of the museum from being a destination toward being a fully integrated community partner that actively affirms that collective problems, such as socioeconomic inequities, climate change, and educational systems in crisis, require collective solutions. Museums cannot stand on the sidelines expecting others to address these persistent and urgent issues; museums must do their part.
Commit to Resilience: Redefine the organization as integral, relevant, and vital to public life.
This goal advances resilience by asking institutions to challenge their assumptions about how their pasts continue to influence current operations for good or ill. Confronting, naming, and owning exclusionary practices and colonial roots is essential internal work: no museum can achieve true resiliency without addressing the evidence and nature of past decisions, harms caused, and the embedded practices that may have left many without a voice or representation.
While part of this goal is about decolonizing the museum, it is also about addressing institutional priorities, practices, and processes that reveal realities about authority and power, diverse approaches to working with the public, and collection equity and access. Understandably, this process of deep assessment will lead to repositioning the museum’s purpose, mission, and institutional commitments.
Commit to Resilience: Reinvent the organization for the greatest relevance.
This goal underpins the essential need for financial strategies to support the work of transformation, building financial resilience, and instilling the ability to be flexible and prepared. Understanding the connections between financial resources and the institution’s internal and external realities is about aligning institutional convictions with the resources required to address them.
Critical examination of the museum’s business model once again challenges assumptions and assesses where and how every resource is secured and invested, thus catalyzing new decision-making criteria and processes and laying the groundwork for rigorous resilient practices. Instilling institution-wide financial literacy gives board and staff members an understanding of, and respect for, the intricacies of running a museum’s complex operation.
Commit to Resilience: Build financial resilience.
The final Playbook goal speaks to our understanding that institutional reframing, realigning, and reinvention are unlikely to occur without organizational leaders (including staff leaders) who are receptive to making change. Change requires a sense of urgency and champions for change combined with an integrated and inclusive approach to examining organizational culture and structures. That means unlearning old behaviors in order to pursue a new clarity of purpose rooted in a “values first” approach.
Museums must re-examine board and staff roles and responsibilities and their policies and procedures in order to ensure agility. Accept that no individual has all the answers, especially when it comes to complicated crises like COVID-19 and systemic racism. Resilient leaders use diverse teams to help them problem-solve, and, in doing so, they foster learning environments.
Commit to Resilience: Recalibrate leadership for peak performance.
Many conversations, actions, and decisions will occur before organizations are authentically equitable, inclusive, resilient, and active participants in their communities. While each institution will envision its own path into the future, all must address past and current practices before moving forward.
The Resilience Model requires intentionality, diligence, courage, patience, and, above all else, an institutional commitment to do the work and accept the need for change. In the end, we hope the Resilience Model and The Resilience Playbook generate deep self-reflective conversations in the field, leading to meaningful changes and a growing community of resilient museums.
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