INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FORCULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
Reposted from Artnet News
An organized march against the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) board ended in a heated standoff between demonstrators and security guards at the entrance to the institution last Friday, April 30. Two security guards and one protestor were reportedly injured in the incident.
The march marked the fourth in a series of 10 “Strike MoMA” demonstrations organized by a coalition of activist groups that have united under the name the International Imagination of Anti-National Anti-Imperialist Feelings (IIAAF). About 40 people took part, according to the New York Times.
Accompanied by a police escort, the protestors marched through midtown New York, making stops in front of BlackRock, the investment company owned by controversial MoMA trustee Larry Fink, and the luxury residential buildings that make up “Billionaires’ Row,” before concluding at MoMA.
There, in a gesture against the museum’s $25 entrance fee, they attempted to enter the venue, but were denied by the venue’s security.
“As we arrived, MoMA was converted into a high-security fortress,” the activist group said in an email. “Doors were locked from the inside by other guards. Outside guards used their bodies to obstruct the entrances. The reason we were given repeatedly is this, we quote: ‘We cannot permit you to protest inside.’”
Representatives from the group told Artnet News that they sent MoMA director Glenn Lowry a letter a week prior, warning museum administration of their plans to enter the building, and to refuse to pay. (A copy of the letter was shared with Artnet News.) MoMA never responded to the letter, they said.
“We anticipated a peaceful protest,” a MoMA press officer told Artnet News, “and we were prepared to respect and accommodate the protesters’ activity, so long as they respected New York State’s and City’s COVID-19 health and safety requirements of masking, social-distancing, and temperature screening. They refused to do so, repeatedly threatened Museum frontline staff, and said they would force their way in. Museum security personnel closed the entrance in accordance with established safety protocols because the protesters chose not to act safely or peacefully.”
The representative said that two museum security officers were “seriously injured” during the altercation. One was hit with a stick and bitten, the museum alleges, while the other had to be hospitalized after being pushed into a revolving door.
“The Museum will always act to protect the health and safety of our staff and visitors,” the representative added. “The actions we saw on Friday are never acceptable and will not be tolerated.”
Hyperallergic reported that one protestor, who also worked as an educator at MoMA for eight years, said she was struck repeatedly in the face by a museum security guard. Asked by Artnet News about the incident, Strike MoMA wrote, “We have no additional details about any injuries sustained beyond what the media reported on.”
Strike MoMA was organized in opposition to the alleged “toxic philanthropy” of the museum’s trustees, including Black, who announced in March that he would not seek re-election as the museum’s chairman following a public controversy over his connections to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Citing the research of MoMA Divest, Strike MoMA’s manifesto targets five museum board members—Steven Cohen, Glenn Dubin, Larry Fink, and Steven Tananbaum, in addition to Black—over their alleged “ties to war, racist prison and border enforcement systems, vulture fund exploitation, gentrification and displacement of the poor, extractivism and environmental degradation, and patriarchal forms of violence.”
Six more demonstrations are scheduled, happening each Friday until June 11.
In a public statement issued by IIAAF this weekend, the group condemned “MoMA leadership’s attempt to distort the nature of the confrontation at the museum.”
“The supposed threat was a group of artist dissidents, acting in the spirit of creative revolt that the museum loves to celebrate on the walls of its galleries,” the statement went on. “It’s time to put an end to this hypocrisy. Too many in our arts communities have learned to turn a blind eye to the gruesome capture of the art world by financial high-rollers with low morals. It’s not too late to stop the plunder, and remember, the fish rots from the head down.”
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Reposted from Security Magazine
In March 2020, thieves pulled off a smash-and-grab job in the dead of the night, stealing Vincent van Goghs’s masterpiece, The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884, from Netherland’s Singer Laren museum, exploiting the museum’s recent closure to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Around 3:15 a.m., the thieves smashed a glass door at the entrance, triggered an alarm system, and successfully stole the painting before law enforcement arrived.
Much like Singer Laren, other museums, galleries, libraries and cultural institutions in charge of protecting valuable and cultural assets remain temporarily closed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, 90% of the world’s museums or more than 85,000 in number, have temporarily closed their doors to protect the health and safety of staff and visitors, and nearly 13% of museums worldwide may never reopen after the COVID-19 shutdown, according to research by UNESCO and the International Council of Museums (ICOM).
The burglary and theft at Singer Laren garnered attention of museum directors and security staff, particularly as the lack of crowds and physical security presence potentially compromised by staffing issues during the virus outbreak may present an invitation to opportunistic thieves, as reported by the Washington Post. And, while these facilities continue to maintain 24-hour security operations with increased monitoring of all facilities and property, thieves may think these facilities are in a weakened condition, increasing the threat level.
To maintain a unified security and safety operation during closure, many museums and cultural heritage institutions have relied on tried-and-true security and risk management practices, and repurposed their time and energy to reassess, monitor and explore additional risk-mitigation measures to safely reopen and welcome the public back through their doors.
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the arts and culture community. Self-isolation measures placed during COVID represent a major challenge for arts and museum security professionals who must continue to ensure the security of facilities, assets and art collections. Tried-and-true safety and security measures have proven highly valuable during this time, says Kevin Wilkes, Chief Security Officer for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
As one of the city’s largest property owners in the Pittsburgh downtown area, the Trust is responsible for more than one million square feet of property and is a major economic driver of business in the Cultural District with an estimated annual economic impact of $303 million serving as an anchor institution for other dining, parking, retail, residential and entertainment businesses.
At the Trust, Wilkes is responsible for the development of all security and safety policies, programs and procedures designed to protect the Trust, its staff, patrons, guests and property and liability exposure. He manages the 24-hour, 365-days-a-year security presence in all Trust facilities and grounds by utilizing personnel and video surveillance.
Wilkes also leads a team comprised of the Vice President of Operations, Chief Information Officer, facility managers, technology security personnel, risk management personnel and external security contractors, to develop and manage all security and safety policies, programs and procedures for the 14-block campus located within Downtown Pittsburgh. The Trust campus supports nine performing arts locations, five visual arts/gallery locations, and a host of outdoor public art spaces.
The Trust hosts approximately two million visitors annually to its various performing and visual arts exhibitions and artistic festivals. “Our risks run the gambit from incidents of mass attack, property crime, street crime, acts of workplace violence, employee dishonesty, weather-related risks, civil unrest, theft, vandalism, crowd control and management, suspicious activity/threats, and more,” says Wilkes. “Our Cultural District neighborhood is really a city within a city and our community is impacted by all those risks you would expect to see in such a diverse and dynamic setting.”
Securing a large footprint is no easy task, and can be extremely challenging for a local non-profit to manage. “However, the protection of our art galleries and public art displays is of paramount importance to the Trust, even during the pandemic,” Wilkes explains. “The protection of these spaces factors in heavily with our security mission of implementing protective measures to help assure the comfort and enjoyment of guests as they experience our visual art locations and outdoor public art area.”
And while indoor art galleries at the Trust remain shuttered due to COVID-19, outdoor public art locations are open, free to the public, and are readily accessible for all to enjoy. Like most organizations, the Trust utilizes a myriad of protection practices to safeguard its people, guests, events, and properties – all of which help Wilkes and his security team to form a comprehensive strategy of layered defense which uses a well-balanced mixture of both hard and soft protection practices.
According to Wilkes, these practices begin with a thorough security risk assessment to build protection methodologies and foundation upon, and then a periodic reassessment of practices on an ongoing basis to help “right-size” the security platform to ensure the security team meets their objectives or rethink their strategy and possibly redeploy resources elsewhere where better needed.
During the COVID-19 closure, Doug Beaver, CPP, Executive Director of Protection Services for the National Museum of Women in the Arts, has also relied on a wide spectrum of security functions including, but not limited to, security guard force management, risk and vulnerability assessments, and business continuity planning.
Located in the heart of Washington, D.C. and just blocks away from the White House, the National Museum of Women in the Arts frequently hosts high-profile events that dignitaries and high government officials, including the President and the Vice President of the U.S., attend. For these high-profile events, Beaver works closely with the U.S. Secret Service and coordinates with law enforcement advance protection teams in developing security plans for top quality concerts, films, staged readings and other performing arts events, visiting dignitaries, executive level government officials, heads of state, entertainers and world leaders.
Beaver oversees all aspects of the physical and technical security programs associated with a nearly 6,000-object collection and an 18,500-volume library and research center at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. His responsibilities include developing and implementing department policies, administering technical security systems, safety training programs, standard operating procedures, employee security awareness programs, disaster preparedness and emergency response plans.
The pandemic, Beaver says, introduced unexpected challenges relating to the sustainability of the entire cultural arts industry. “Establishing and deploying mitigating measures for COVID-19, is eerily similar to that of a bioterrorism response, and presents similar challenges. The SARS-CoV-2 has really heightened our nation's biological weapon profiles, spotlighted our vulnerabilities and placed the U.S. squarely on the international stage, which could have a profound effect down the road on our national security – it’s a serious concern that we all should be cognizant of.”
To keep up with this world of uncertainty, Beaver has leveraged his expertise in risk assessments to educate and inform C-suite decision-makers. Though they can be somewhat complicated, he uses a qualitative approach, boiling it down to three core elements: risk identification, risk analysis and risk evaluation. This methodology allows him to quickly prioritize and rank any security and safety risks, which is a necessity for mitigation. “The risk assessment ensures the security team can effectively carry out the important mission of protecting people, assets and information with professional expertise,” Beaver says.
According to Andy Davis, Owner and Managing Director of Trident Manor Limited, the risk assessment process for cultural institutions should be comprehensive. Having been involved in the audit, review and design of museums and other cultural venues for several years, he always encourages organizations in charge of the exhibition, conservation and management of cultural heritage to “consider the broader context.”
“Consider: What's happening socially around the building and around the venue? What's happening socially in the region? Are there any protests? Has there been any direct impact or threats against the museum or the venue? Have you suffered any losses or any damage? Have you collected and analyzed publicly available information and data for intelligence purposes? Taking all these aspects into account helps you build a picture and understand what is really taking place around your venue,” Davis says.
In turn, this helps with directing the organization’s risk tolerance and approach to risk management activities. Every museum or cultural heritage institution is unique, faces different threats, has different short-term objectives and different resources available. “Understand that there is no one size fits all,” Davis explains.
Davis recommends a structured approach to assessing the threats that exist and the risks they pose. “Identity the threats that exist, from crime, to civil disturbances and warfare, natural catastrophes, industrial disasters, and any other threats which may result in loss, theft, or damage to the artifacts on display.”
Once all threats are understood, an evaluation of the risk each poses to the venue or facility can be undertaken. The nature of the threat is very much influenced by the attractiveness, value and portability of the collection, although the institution’s surroundings and any history of crime will also play a part. An institution that has suffered a burglary or robbery with the loss of some masterpieces from a collection that has other similar works should consider the potential threat from adversarial sources as being high, Davis explains.
“Our history and culture is preserved in museums,” Davis says. “Now, more than ever, operational security practices need to dovetail with physical and technical solutions to protect heritage and cultural institutions from attacks, particularly as the illicit trafficking of cultural property has been closely linked to organized crime and terrorism financing.”
Of particular concern over the last year for museums and cultural institutions has been rising extremism, continuing fallout from the pandemic, racial injustice and political issues – all which can drive an increase in violent threats toward institutions of all kinds, especially high-value and cultural targets.
“From a pandemic to a very heated national presidential election, to the sudden reawakening to the public of social injustice issues, and not to mention the rise of extremist nationalists inside our country, it was the perfect storm,” Wilkes says. “It created unique challenges that impacted organizations across the world. Museums and cultural heritage institutions were not exempt from that. These events alone, not to mention the always-present risk of possible attacks against places of mass gatherings is enough to cause any security professional to lose sleep. ”
The U.S. Capitol Riot on January 6, 2021 was particularly challenging for Beaver, as the National Museum of Women in the Arts is located in the epicenter of D.C. “We’re located just two blocks from the White House, which presents us with an ongoing heightened threat environment,” Beaver says. “That threat is exacerbated by the fact that we are the only museum of its kind in the world, one that recognizes and honors women artists.”
As a result, the museum has maintained an ongoing mindset of heightened awareness. “In terms of preparing for social unrest, one of the key factors is the early recognition of aberrant behavior through effective screening processes. It’s critically important to identify individuals exhibiting behavioral anomalies early that could ultimately present a threat to your institution and staff, your staff, visitors and its assets,” Beaver explains.
Beaver incorporates behavioral pattern recognition, a tactical tool for detection of suspicious and criminal behavior prior to an attack – a technique he perfected while working with an Israeli risk management firm – into his training programs for his physical security team comprised of current and former law enforcement officers and a civilian guard force of approximately 50 officers. He says, “I’ve trained our officers to recognize behavior that is uncommon in a museum setting, and because aberrant behavior is out of place, it more times than not, can lead to undesirable outcomes.”
Training should be ongoing for museum protection personnel, who should receive enhanced training in security, fire prevention, and first aid skills, Davis says.
Most importantly, safety and security training in a museum should apply to everyone. “Once a policy is established regarding access, perimeter, or other security measures particularly those implemented during the lockdown, no one, including the director, trustees, donors, staff, etc., should be exempt or excluded from rules or safeguards due to the rank, education, or job function,” he says.
All employees that have access to the building or the collection or who have contact with the public or visitors - including those who volunteer or are members of affiliated groups or boards - should understand the various threats that exist, Davis suggests. “In addition to understanding the threat, everyone should be trained on situational awareness. If a staff member sees something that is suspicious, he or she is able to alert security and help along the security process. It helps build multiple layers of operational effectiveness.”
Davis suggests the right balance is when the protection is in place, but is low profile and effective. “It has to combine physical protection measures, technical solutions, operational practices and overall, internal education programs about steps and measures that should be taken so visitors can have an enjoyable experience, while protecting the organization, its people, and its assets.”
Wilkes and Beaver also maintain an excellent working relationship and partnership with local law enforcement. These strategic partnerships helps security leaders take further reasonable steps to reduce the risk of a reasonably foreseeable type of loss from occurring – whether from vandalism, theft, extortion, ransom, fire or disaster.
In Pittsburgh, Wilkes explains, some protests became chaotic and out of control, leading to some property damage to one of the Trust’s buildings within the downtown area. His relationship with law enforcement enabled him to maximize the security around the properties in advance of any potential problems associated with civil unrest, helping limit and minimize property damage. “We continue to maintain a good partnership with local law enforcement, as well as rely on outside cyber intelligence, threat assessment and analysis to help us take preemptive measures before incidents can occur and take steps to prevent unnecessary risk,” he says.
Beaver says he has established working relationships with federal law enforcement as well, particularly with the local the Department of Homeland Security fusion center. Fusion centers share threat-related information between State, Local, Tribal and Territorial, federal and private sector partners. “They provide me with intelligence resources through social media and dark web monitoring to assist us in proactively mitigating any potential threats that they identify as relevant to our institution.”
Overall, says Wilkes, security leaders must rely on public safety partnerships, cyber intelligence/threat assessment practices, and community outreach components to safeguard people, guests, assets and properties. “These resources help us preemptively identify any developing concerns that need monitoring and possibly deploy an appropriate intervention response, to hopefully deescalate the situation before it impacts the Trust or our stakeholders.”
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Wilkes adds. “In my book, prevention beats response any day of the week. A security solutions formula that I have always attempted to follow during my career has been Awareness + Readiness + Prevention = Risk Reduction. This has always been a recipe for success and one I consistently turn to and rely upon.”
For museum security leaders, reestablishing and strengthening the three main focus areas have been restoring health and safety, strengthening business continuity and crisis management strategies, and creating a plan that allows the return to full business operations.
Because cultural institutions and museums rely on repetitive visitation, a key challenge for security leaders in this space is balancing the necessary measures of security for high-value and irreplaceable cultural artifacts, while maintaining an unrestricted and welcoming environment where the public can view and interact with the art.
As many of these institutions prepare to reopen to the public with major limitations, providing an environment that allows for the best possible visitor experience while ensuring the wellbeing of staff and visitors in a socially distanced world is a major concern.
“You want the public to feel comfortable and safe, but we’re trying to ensure that our collections are secure from any type of damage or vandalism,” Beaver says. “A heavy dose of interpersonal skills and visitor relations, aligned with policies and procedures will be more critical than ever.”
Observation skills will continue to be important as well. “As visitors interact with the art hanging on the wall or with sculptures, the physical security team has to be aware of every single potential hazard to the artwork and ensure visitors are complying with government mandates and meet the museum or venue’s specific safety measures implemented, such as avoiding the formation of groups, regulating flows, enforcing social distancing, enforcing hygiene, and providing temperature screening at the entrance,” Beaver explains.
At the Trust, Wilkes and his security team are preparing for The Three Rivers Arts Festival, the first large-scale public event in over a year. In addition to utilizing security technology and external public safety partnerships, he says, they will be deploying a public safety tent for this event which serves as their Forward Operating Base (FOB) for the two-week festival.
“We anticipate the need to utilize more volunteers and security persons to provide guidance to our guests inside of the festival’s new reimagined footprint this year and to help remind guests about our COVID health safety protocols (masks, social distancing, hand washing, guest entry times, festival area capacity limits, etc.),” Wilkes explains. “We will also be using more housekeeping (Clean Team) personnel to ensure we are properly disinfecting all high-touch areas and surfaces. We will utilize outside hand sanitization stations and make sure we have a COVID-isolation area onsite which is medically supplied with equipment and EMS personnel for those persons who may suddenly find themselves feeling ill or experiencing COVID-like symptoms.”
Another challenge museum and cultural institutions must consider is encountering resistance to policies. “There has been an increase in verbal confrontations between security staff, museum staff and visitors who don’t want to comply with the rules, such as the wearing of face masks, social distancing. Security teams will need to be trained on visitor care and conflict management. Resistance to policies need to be met and addressed with clear policies and procedures,” Davis says.
Overall, in addition to complying with orders and guidance from federal, state and local officials and the medical community, Beaver recommends organizations address employees’ COVID-19 questions and concerns and reassure staff of the steps that are being taken to protect everyone’s health and well-being. “This will help prepare our security teams in navigating the many changes they will face, and communicate organizational leadership’s compassion and empathy during these challenging, difficult times.”
For Wilkes, Beaver, and other museum security leaders alike, the main priority is letting visitors know it is OK to have fun again in a safe and responsible fashion. “Our job is to be responsible event organizers and facilitators of a healthy and safe guest experience,” Wilkes says.
Reposted from Harvard Business Review
Research has definitively shown that burnout is an organizational problem, not an individual one. But while responsibility for preventing employee burnout rests squarely on the shoulders of employers, remedying burnout once you’re suffering from it is much less straightforward. Studies show that external efforts to pull someone out of burnout — no matter how well intentioned — often fail. While this by no means recuses employers from taking accountability for supporting the mental health of their employees, our recent research suggests that when you’re feeling burned out, the best person to help you recover may be yourself.
Specifically, we conducted several studies exploring the most effective strategies for recovering from burnout, and identified a number of common trends:
First, our research confirmed the established finding that burnout is not a monolithic phenomenon, but rather, it can present as any combination of three distinct symptoms: exhaustion (a depletion of mental or physical resources), cynical detachment (a depletion of social connectedness), and a reduced sense of efficacy (a depletion of value for oneself). To recover from burnout, you must identify which of these resources has been depleted and take action to replenish those resources.
For example, when exhaustion is the primary source of burnout, we found that re-energizing acts of self-care are the most effective tool for recovery. In one study, we measured the impact of small acts of self-compassion among a sample of business school students during their highly stressful 10-day midterms period — a time in which both mental and physical exhaustion are common. Each morning, we gave participants one task for the day: on some mornings, we asked them to notice a challenge they would face that day and then treat themselves with compassion, while on other mornings, we asked them to think about and demonstrate compassion for another person. We found that engaging in self-care activities (such as a 10-minute meditation session, cooking a nice meal, or even taking a nap) correlated strongly with reduced levels of reported burnout the following day. These findings support the notion that self-care is not self-indulgent; on the contrary, taking a break and focusing on yourself is one of the best ways to combat exhaustion and burnout.
On the other hand, when burnout is due to cynicism, self-care may not be the most effective strategy. When feeling alienated, focusing on yourself may lead you to withdraw further, while being kind to others can help you regain a sense of connectedness and belonging in your community. In our study, we found that when participants were instructed to focus on alleviating others’ challenges, they did things like offering words of encouragement or taking a coworker out to lunch, and then reported lower levels of cynicism the next day. Even just taking a few minutes to comfort a colleague or listen to their concerns led to a reduction in burnout associated with cynicism.
Finally, when employees struggled with feelings of inefficacy, our research showed that acts focused on bolstering their positive sense of self were the most impactful. Interestingly, this can mean either self-compassion or compassion for others — the key is simply to accomplish something that will validate your own sense of personal value. For example, we found that external acts such as comforting a coworker led to increased self-esteem (especially if the coworker expressed gratitude), but so did internally-focused achievements, such as completing a workout session or finishing a project.
In addition, our research illustrated the fact that agency is essential. To effectively overcome burnout, employees must feel empowered to take control over their own lives and decisions. For example, if an employee is feeling burned out because of a lack of social connections, there are steps managers can take to alleviate that — but past research has shown that such interventions are tricky to execute: They’re often ineffective, and they may even increase the burden on your already burned out employees. Our work suggests that a more effective approach in these cases is for employees to reaffirm their own social networks. Rather than having bosses organize endless happy hours to artificially foster connections or herd burned-out employees into forced team-building activities, real recovery comes when managers give employees the space to pursue their own restorative opportunities — whether that’s explicitly encouraging them to take personal time to check in with a colleague, providing resources to build a mentoring network, or even just showing by example that the organization values self-care.
Of course, even in the most supportive work environment, compassion (for yourself or for others) doesn’t always come easily. In a second study, we surveyed social service workers — a population prone to chronic burnout — over three years. We found that those who were already suffering from burnout had a harder time engaging in acts of self- or other-care, but that those who were able to muster the energy to practice compassion showed significant reductions in burnout. This suggests that compassion is a like a muscle: it can be exhausted, but it can also be trained. In fact, researchers have found that compassion meditation training can actually rewire neural systems in the brain, and breath training, appreciation exercises, yoga, and movement practices have also been shown to be effective tools to cultivate compassion. The key is to recognize that anyone can learn to be more kind to themselves and to others, and that those small, compassionate acts (alongside other mental health practices) can help you begin to break free of burnout.
It can’t be stressed enough that the best cure for burnout is prevention. It’s on managers and organizations to protect their employees from becoming resource-depleted in the first place, and it’s also on the employer to provide the resources necessary to support employees’ mental health. That said, no matter how much effort an organization puts into combatting burnout, there will always be a need for employees to understand where their burnout is coming from and to develop strategies to help pull themselves out. Through self-reflection, employees can begin to identify the sources of their burnout, and then proactively determine the actions they can take that will be most effective for their recovery — whether that’s self-compassion, acts of kindness, or some combination of the two.
Reposted from Campus Safety Magazine
Almost every day the news presents for us another story about the latest incident involving a mass shooting. Just in 2021, a mentally disturbed individual killed eight persons at various Atlanta business locations. In the Denver area, a grocery store attack killed ten people, to include a responding police officer. At an Indianapolis FedEx warehouse facility, a disgruntled ex-employee killed nine former co-workers. History has shown that the tragedy of an active shooting attack occurs all too frequently.
Unfortunately, such mass shootings also occur on school and college campuses. The 1966 University of Texas shooting killed 16 and wounded another 33 before law enforcement was able to stop the sniper positioned in the university’s clock tower. The 1999 shooting at Columbine High School killed 13 and wounded another 24 students. In 2007 an active shooter at Virginia Tech barricaded the building exits before trapping and killing 32 students along with wounded 23 others. Sandy Hook Elementary School was the site of the 2012 attack that left 27 dead, to include 20 elementary students ages six and younger. In 2017 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was the target of a suspended student who killed 17 and wounded the same number of students. Between 2012-2019, there were 387 mass shootings in the United States, 40 of which occurred on academic campuses. In 2019 alone, 211 people nationwide were killed as a result of active shooting attacks.
Law enforcement defines an active shooter as an individual who is actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill persons in a confined and populated area, typically through the use of a firearm. A mass shooting is further characterized by three or more deaths occurring as a result of the attack. Active shooters typically act alone and will almost never take hostages or negotiate with authorities before the incident is over. On average, an active shooter situation will last approximately eight minutes, enabling the attacker time to cause significant damage even before law enforcement is able to arrive on scene.
The reality of the active shooter threat means students and facility must know how to respond if confronted with this deadly situation. The “Run, Hide or Fight” response strategy has proven useful in affording innocent victims the best chance of evading harm, and it is incumbent on those responsible for campus safety to provide such training to all whom can benefit. Additionally, faculty and students need to also understand what actions to take as they escape the danger, such as displaying empty and raised hands when confronted by arriving authorities so as not to be mistaken for the threat. Also, responding police will need actionable information, to include the description and location of the attacker, as well as the number and severity of injured victims.
Just as important, campus safety personnel, as well as faculty and students, should learn the warning signs of a potential active shooter, the identification of which could help prevent a mass tragedy event. These warning signs include discernable behaviors that can raise concern regarding a potential future active shooter situation. Warning indicators can manifest in the form of social media that telegraph a potential shooter’s intent through the posting of content that supports violence, promotes the criminal use of weapons, or the expression of threatening messages. Furthermore, negative changes in personal behaviors, such as increased aggressiveness, paranoia or depression, can all be precursors to someone who is contemplating a mass shooting. It is essential to take any and all threats seriously that intimate violence, and to implement the necessary resources and intervention. Providing assistance to a troubled individual in advance can prevent violent actions in the future.
No one ever wants to be in the midst of an active shooter scenario. Unfortunately, history has shown that mass shootings happen with some degree of regularity, to include occurring on campus settings. While difficult to influence the actions of those who are mentally ill or wish to commit violence, the safety and security of individual faculty and students can be enhanced through an understanding of active shooter response strategies. Moreover, the recognition of the potential warning signs and providing intervention to the individual in question can enhance the safety of the overall campus community.
Reposted from The New York Times
People talk a lot about getting back to pre-Covid normal. But our traditional art museums can forget about that. After a year of intense racial justice reckoning, a paralyzing pandemic and crippling economic shortfalls, aging hidebound institutions are scrambling just to stay afloat. And the only way for them to do so is to change. Strategies for forward motion are needed. One is in play here at the Speed Art Museum, in the form of a quietly passionate show called “Promise, Witness, Remembrance,” which might, with profit, be studied by other institutions in survivalist mode.
Conventional encyclopedic museums like the Speed, the largest and oldest art museum in Kentucky, are glacial machines. Their major exhibitions are usually years in the planning. Borrowing objects from other museums can be a red tape tangle. “Historical” shows, by definition, are usually confined to events and cultures of the past. “Promise, Witness, Remembrance” revises all of that. It speeds up exhibition production, focuses on the present, and in doing so reaches out to new audiences vital to the institutional future.
Combining works from the Speed’s permanent collection with loans in several cases directly from artists and galleries, the show was assembled and installed (beautifully) in a mere four months. And it was conceived as a direct response to a contemporary news event: the killing, by Louisville police, of Breonna Taylor, a Black 26-year-old medical worker, in March 2020. A posthumous painting of Taylor by the artist Amy Sherald is the exhibition’s centerpiece, accompanied by photographs of local street protests sparked by her death and by the lenient treatment of the white officers involved.
The availability of the painting by Sherald, who is widely known for her earlier portrait of Michelle Obama, was the impetus for the show. Originally commissioned by Vanity Fair, it appeared on the cover of the magazine’s September 2020 issue. Sherald herself expressed interest in having the painting shown at the Speed, and in November the museum hired Allison Glenn, an associate curator of contemporary art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., who, with astonishing speed and acuity, built an exhibition around it in Louisville, comprised entirely of Black artists, with funding found to keep the admission free.
Accessibility, cultural and financial, are crucial features of the show. Until now, museums have generally ignored the country’s changing population demographics. The history that our big, general-interest art museums promote, through their preservation and display of objects, is primarily white history, with views of all other histories filtered through it. But that slanted perspective is no longer representative of audiences that museums will — speaking purely pragmatically — need to attract to survive.
Museums also tend to underestimate radical shifts in awareness of, and interest in, the past. In a social media century, attention seems increasingly focused on the 24-hour news cycle. How can that new consciousness be reflected in classical museums, which pride themselves on being slow-reacting monoliths. Only by staying limber, being ready and able to adjust, absorb and adapt, can our art institutions thrive.
In “Promise, Witness, Remembrance,” the Speed offers an example of this dynamic. Working closely with Taylor’s family, and with the Speed’s community relations strategist Toya Northington, Glenn quickly mustered advisory committees of artists and activists from the city itself and from across the country. In the Speed’s permanent collection, she found solid material to build on, including works by several artists associated with the city. Pieces included a magnificent, warm-as-an-embrace draped painting from 1969 by Sam Gilliam, who grew up in Louisville; a sculptured bronze head of a Black Union soldier by Ed Hamilton, who still lives there; and a suite of strategically altered Ebony magazine pages by Noel W Anderson, who is now based in New York City.
Glenn then began making requests for loans. Within a time frame most museums would consider impossibly tight, agreements were signed, and pieces began to come in. The last to to be installed, shortly before the opening, was the Sherald portrait which is in the process of being purchased jointly by the Speed and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., with the help of a $1 million donation by two philanthropies, the Ford Foundation and the Hearthland Foundation (run by the actress Kate Capshaw and her husband, the director Steven Spielberg).
The resulting show isn’t huge — around 30 pieces— but the museum has given it prime space, clearing out three permanent collection galleries on either side of its sculpture-filled central atrium to accommodate it. This guarantees that individual works have room to breathe. It also symbolically offers a gesture of welcome on the part of a traditional museum to a display of Black contemporary art. (By contrast, two years ago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art installed a truly regal Kerry James Marshall retrospective, not where it really belonged in special exhibition galleries in the museum’s Fifth Avenue headquarters, but in what was then its Breuer annex on Madison Avenue.)
Glenn mapped out the show in three parts keyed to the themes in the title, all proposed by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer. The work in the first section, “Promise,” suggests a nation’s vaunted humanist ideals and abuse of those ideals. A 2011 wall piece by Nari Ward spells out the opening words of the Constitution, “We the People,” in letters made from multicolored shoelaces. In Bethany Collins’s “The Star Spangled Banner: A Hymnal” (2020), militantly nationalist songs are seared, as if written with acid, into the pages of a book.
The second gallery, “Witness,” focuses loosely on the theme of cultural and political resistance, recent in images by Louisville photographers — Erik Branch, Xavier Burrell, Jon P. Cherry, Tyler Gerth (1992-2020) and T.A. Yero — documenting the city’s 2020 Black Lives Matter demonstrations; and historical in the case of Terry Adkins’s sculptural column of stacked-up drums referring to a march organized by the N.A.A.C.P. in 1917 in New York City to protest a national plague of lynchings.
The third section, “Remembrance,” is dimly lighted and sparsely hung. Here what look like commemorative floral tributes — a sculptural one by Nick Cave and a painted one by the Cuban-born Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons — flank a wall-filling projection of Jon-Sesrie Goff’s video “A Site of Reckoning: Battlefield,” a brief, moving meditation on the 2016 mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
Sherald’s portrait of Taylor, whom she depicts in a breeze-blown turquoise dress against a turquoise ground, hangs just beyond, in a chapel-like space, otherwise empty except for a wall text in the form of a biographical timeline composed by her mother. The entire show is basically designed to lead to and enshrine this image. You can see it far in the distance, an eye-catching blur of color, from the minute you enter three galleries away, and approach it by a processional route.
I find myself resisting such enshrinements, whether of people, or art, or history. So I was glad the show didn’t quite end there, but with a two-channel video by the artist and filmmaker Kahlil Joseph called “BLKNWS®” in a bright room, with an outdoor view, one flight down. Raucous and nervy, the video is a careening jump-cut alternative view of what the media leave out, or misrepresent, in reporting on Black life and experience.
In the context of the Speed exhibition, its mock newscast is a reminder of what museums, too, leave out. As far as I know, “Promise, Witness, Remembrance” is the only large-scale institutional show to date that addresses the important episode in our contemporary national history that Taylor’s violent death, and the communal reaction to it, represent.
And it’s worth considering that the Speed show coincides with the trial in Minneapolis of the white police officer accused of killing George Floyd, another epoch-shaping event that — again, as far as I know — no major institution has yet even glancingly touched on. If you’re wondering why our museums are looking too often these days like dated artifacts with shaky futures, Covid-19 can’t take all the blame.
Reposted from AAM
A conversation between two DEAI experts on how museums can prepare a chief diversity officer for success.
In 2018, when Makeba Clay was hired as the inaugural chief diversity officer (CDO) at The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC—the first in an American art museum—she called Cecile Shellman, then the diversity catalyst at the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, for an informational interview about how she had made diversity, equity, access, and inclusion (DEAI) a reality at her institution. Shellman knew what it was like to lack role models, benchmarks, or patterns for progress in this work. In the ensuing years, both Clay and Shellman have, in various capacities, helped cultural institutions confront the systemic inequities in their operations.
Here, Clay and Shellman weigh in on what museums need to do before hiring a CDO, how they can hire the best person for the role, and how they can support that person in their work.
Cecile Shellman: Every museum is different, and their needs relative to DEAI concerns will be unique to their organizational culture. The task at hand is immense: leading efforts to diversify staff, programs, and exhibitions; striving for equity among all internal communities; providing access and accommodations for people with disabilities and people whose first language is not English; and creating more welcoming cultures. Each institution must do extensive diagnostic work to identify and analyze their own challenges—understanding where they are, what cultural changes need to happen, and whether their organizational structure is malleable enough to support cultural transformation in an authentic way. Until that happens, they should not seek a CDO.
Makeba Clay: I couldn’t agree with you more, Cecile. I can’t tell you how often I have been approached by institutions that believe they are ready for organizational culture change, yet they are unwilling to face the truth about where they are on their journey. When I encounter this type of cognitive dissonance, I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes by James Baldwin, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
Clay: The role of the chief diversity officer is multidimensional and complex, with a focus on leading strategic change, building capacity for training and thought leadership, coordinating and convening community members, serving as an advocate and ambassador, establishing metrics and systems of accountability, and communicating regularly about DEAI to internal and external stakeholders.
The ideal candidate for the CDO role is someone who not only demonstrates a deep commitment to the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but also possesses intellectual and ethical leadership as a strategic leader, adviser, and catalyst for institutional and cultural change across the organization. The individual must be able to lead from the middle, possess an equity mindset, be adept at fostering dialogue with multiple constituencies and building coalitions, and be able to achieve results through influence and collaboration. Further, the ideal candidate will have demonstrated capabilities as an administrator, convener, and community builder who has a record of success advancing DEAI in arts and culture, nonprofit, and/or education fields at the executive level.
What I’ve also come to realize is that whatever isn’t measured doesn’t get done. Therefore, increasingly, institutions that rely on financial support from foundations and other grant-funded sources are asked to demonstrate the impact/ROI of their DEAI efforts. Consequently, a CDO must have demonstrated the ability to utilize data and analytics as important tools in establishing goals and measuring progress. This person must work toward institutional change by proactively approaching challenges with systems-level thinking rather than reacting to challenges or constantly fixing problems.
Shellman: The ideal chief diversity officer should have a profound understanding of civics, social justice, critical race theory, and intersectionality, both in an academic context and through their lived experience. A capacity for building and maintaining trusting, confidential, respectful relationships is key. Additionally, the CDO should be a skilled communicator and mediator who has demonstrated success in forging consensus between individuals and communities with divergent views. A high EQ (emotional IQ) is essential.
Shellman: Equitable interviews should assess for skill. The interview process for the role should model this principle. As such, the questions should focus on assessing candidates’ proficiency in complex problem-solving, knowledge of relevant laws and regulations, and ability to strategize. The ideal candidate should have excellent communication and presentation skills as well as a capacity to convey complex information as an ambassador and advocate.
Clay: When an institution has finally arrived at the point of hiring someone for the CDO role, they may still have a limited understanding of what the key responsibilities should be for the position. Also, institutional leaders may have unrealistic expectations about what the arc of change looks like in action. Because the path of institutional change is not linear, nor is there a one-size-fits-all approach to the work, those who are hiring for this position might ask candidates about their philosophy and methodology for achieving goals associated with the work
Typically, the initial work with any institution involves a discovery period to understand the institutional context, build personal relationships, and determine (with colleagues) the opportunities and challenges facing the institution. Following this initial assessment period (usually within the first 90 days), the CDO will then shift to working across the institution to determine strategic priorities, articulate specific goals, outline the fiscal and human resources needed to achieve them, establish metrics, and set benchmarks and accountability measures. This initial planning process can take up to 18–36 months, depending on the collective decision-making and actions that are taken across the organization.
Clay: I’ve seen countless organizational models that situate DEAI work exclusively on public programs and community engagement or within the context of compliance and training; both of these models will fall short of achieving systemic and sustained change in an organization.
In order to achieve transformation, it’s important for the CDO to take a systems-change approach to this work that applies a DEAI lens throughout all aspects of the museum. Based on my experience and leading practice in the field, ideally, the role would center around three critical and mutually reinforcing areas of responsibility: 1) serving as a strategist and DEAI thought partner with the leadership team in ways that cut across the institutions’ programs, people, policies, processes, and culture, 2) managing the internal change process with an intentional lens on bridging internal efforts with the external (e.g., considering how creating a more accessible museum impacts the broader community outside the organization), and 3) being a champion and model for DEAI values and, in so doing, holding the organization accountable for consistent engagement with DEAI from the CEO and leadership, the board, staff, and volunteers.
Further, during a time when there is so much public scrutiny at the governance level, in order to be taken seriously as a transformative leader, a CDO’s portfolio must include working closely with members of the board of trustees to implement strategic priorities that create far greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in governance by focusing more intentionally on the nominations process, board culture, training, and evaluation. It’s been my experience that in order for an organization to advance systemic and sustained change, the stated values and vision must be in alignment with what is being experienced on the ground. Liaising with and guiding the board in this way enables the CDO to ensure that the voices and needs of other institutional stakeholders are reflected in the broader strategy to best align intent with impact.
Shellman: In the event that training, learning, and development opportunities are not embedded in the human resources function of the organization, the CDO may also coordinate or provide workshops and skill-based training.
Shellman: This position should ideally be at the director level, reporting to the chief executive officer. The CDO should be appropriately compensated, with an additional percentage added for emotional and psychological labor.
The organization should also ensure that there are sufficient financial resources allocated to support the CDO and other staff contributing to this work. Program coordinators, workshop facilitators, researchers, and disability rights advocates should have supporting roles.
Clay: Additionally, all organizational leaders must be committed to, and held accountable for, advancing the DEAI strategic priorities in substantive and measurable ways. For example, each department should develop specific DEAI goals for their department, and each employee within their respective department should create goals that are tied to their performance and measured on an annual basis.
Shellman: This is difficult, emotional work that will require you to shoulder the burdens and challenges of individuals who have historically been excluded or prevented from self-advocating due to a lack of power. You may need additional encouragement and support, such as executive coaching, mentorship, or peer counseling.
Self-care is a must!
Clay: I would urge people to pace themselves; this work is akin to running a marathon, not a sprint. Change takes time and will require a balanced perspective, endurance, resilience, and support from trusted mentors and colleagues. It’s also wise to manage expectations—yours and others—every step of the way.
The civil rights activist and writer Audre Lorde once said, “I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal, and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.” I, too, believe that it is critical for someone in the role of a chief diversity officer to lead with authenticity, to be bold, to be vulnerable, to be courageous, and to simply tell it like it is—with grace, humor, and love.
Makeba Clay (makebaclay.com) and Cecile Shellman (cecileshellmanconsulting.com) are both consultants focusing on DEAI in the museum and nonprofit fields. They are currently senior diversity fellows for AAM’s Facing Change initiative (aam-us.org/programs/facing-change1/). Clay is also the chief diversity officer at The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC.
Reposted from AAM
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, museums are broadening their missions to serve community needs.
Baking bread, teaching cross-stitch online, providing feline pen pals. These activities don’t immediately come to mind when we think of museums’ community engagement efforts, but they are among the ways in which museums have continued to serve their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During this time, museum leaders have repurposed their assets and resources to help their communities by, among other things, contributing masks and gloves to PPE drives, making financial and food donations to local organizations, and instituting a range of innovative online programs. This work not only addresses immediate needs but also may transform how museums serve their communities in the future.
When the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma, closed, President and Director Scott Stulen and his staff launched a flurry of new programming.
“We already had a very robust social media presence,” says Stulen, and “I said, ‘We’re not going to put the mission on pause. We’re going to go from ideas to execution in hours instead of months.’” Of his 120 staff members, he furloughed all of the part-timers and 17 full-time employees, until he received a loan that allowed him to bring back all of the full-time staff in June.
“I thought we could take some risk and experiment, and it’s been a great kind of lab. We’ve done almost 200 new programs geared to different audiences for our weekly Museum From Home platform and had more than 250,000 views.” Well-received Museum From Home programs have included hands-on art projects through the Family Art Club, behind-the-scenes tours, and gardening lessons from the horticulture team.
The museum also tripled the size of its vegetable garden in order to supplement Tulsa food banks and created an online marketplace where artists could sell their works and receive 100 percent of the proceeds. The museum committed to giving 10 percent of membership fees they receive during the shutdown and beyond to the United Way COVID-19 relief fund and contributed almost $5,000 in the first two months.
One particularly popular engagement offering was the opportunity to exchange letters with the museum’s two garden cats, Cleo and Perilla, with responses written by staff volunteers. The cats received thousands of letters from all over the world—including an especially moving one from an incarcerated man who said he was lonely and needed to talk.
“It does go to our core mission—connecting people to art and gardens,” Stulen says. “Sometimes keeping people connected is really simple.”
He anticipates that the approaches he and his team are taking now will alter their actions in the future. “We’re allowing things to happen and giving it some space. I’m hoping we can get a little looser, not be quite as buttoned-up, and take more risks—and that this will allow us to operate with less resources and still be successful.”
Micah Parzen, CEO of the Museum of Us, responded to the pandemic by sending out a “Proposal to Serve Community Need” to 15,000 stakeholders, including members, funders, and local politicians, seeking suggestions on how the museum could assist the community.
“In the 1940s the museum was used as a hospital by the Navy, so we said, ‘We are standing at the ready and eager to help,’” Parzen says. The museum sits in Balboa Park and has 60,000 square feet of space that Parzen was eager to repurpose. “We got an amazing response, with many unique and innovative suggestions, including a domestic violence shelter and a tiny homes community for veterans.”
After reviewing the ideas, Parzen took steps to become a food distribution site for the food bank Feeding San Diego. “We had pre-existing, high-level contacts among food distribution and homeless support nonprofits, and logistically it made sense to try to go in that direction. We were ready to act on that partnership, but the city wasn’t comfortable
reopening the park to anyone other than essential staff, which precluded us from using our steps and the California Plaza in front of the museum in that way.”
They decided to use the museum’s iconic California Tower, which can be seen for miles, to display a message of gratitude on all four sides. “Every night at dusk we project “THANK YOU” in blue lights, in keeping with the worldwide #LightitBlue movement to honor frontline workers everywhere.” The effort garnered extensive media coverage and positive response.
With Balboa Park reopening for outdoor museums, restaurants, and retail, Parzen has again reached out to Feeding San Diego to see if there’s still a need the museum can serve. If so, he will ask the city for permission to serve as a food distribution site until the museum can reopen.
In the meantime, the critical work of the museum continues. Fifty-two staff members have been furloughed, and the remaining 11 are focusing on the museum’s ongoing decolonizing, consulting, and repatriation efforts.
Washington State Historical Society staff purposely hit pause for several weeks after shutting down to determine how they could help their Tacoma community, says Director Jennifer Kilmer.
“It was challenging for us because we realized we had not been living in a digital sphere,” she says. “We didn’t have online exhibits, so we had to evaluate what we could do.” They decided to provide educational resources to help local schools’ digital learning efforts.
“We had already created an app that museum visitors could use to dive deeper into our exhibits,” Kilmer says. “So our staff adapted it by adding History Lessons to Go, which can be done from home, and downloadable activity sheets that link to the content in the app’s gallery tours. We also retooled some of our traditional classroom curriculum and created units that parents can download to support their children’s learning at home.”
For their heritage organization colleagues across the state, they created an extensive list of COVID-19 resources for museums on their website as well as a Heritage Outreach Facebook group to connect and share common concerns.
They also launched “Collecting the COVID-19 Experience,” which asks community members to document the pandemic by submitting anything that helps tell the story of living through it. The first 250 items included videos, photos, quarantine journals, and the promise of a quilt made by quilters from across the state. The items will eventually become an exhibit that aligns with the museum’s mission of “partnering with our communities to explore how history connects us all.”
And by presenting traditional live programming online, the society significantly broadened its reach. The Mount St. Helens 40th Anniversary Story Hour, a program with Washington State Parks that featured five storytellers sharing their memories of the 1980 volcanic eruption, had more than 10,000 views, far beyond the reach of an in-person program.
“We can now reach out all over the state—we need to keep including this virtual format,” Kilmer says. “Going forward, community engagement looks exciting and daunting. This has been an opportunity for us to become much better known, but we still have to ask, ‘What’s our strength?’ The programs we’ve done that have stayed closest to
our mission have been the best attended. Something that guides us, even in non-COVID time, is asking not just can we do it, but does it play to our strengths?”
When the pandemic struck, Dumbarton House Executive Director Karen Daly and her 11 staff members immediately focused on the critical public health needs of its Washington, DC, area. With four other local house museums and a museum collections contractor, they launched a PPE drive and were able to contribute 2,500 pairs of nitrile gloves plus homemade masks and Lysol to Unity Health Care, a network of community health centers in DC.
They also developed a biweekly e-newsletter to share news and resources with the members of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA) and affiliated museums and historic sites across the country. And they created new virtual programming, which included the “Cross Stitch in Quarantine” workshop and the regular Great
Dumbarton Bake Off, an Instagram story where anyone can make and share recipes. Between 100 and 200 people watch the latest baking story every Wednesday, 10 times the interaction of Dumbarton House’s other Instagram stories. In addition, staff created digital puzzles made from works in the collection to share on the NSCDA website (nscda.org/nscda-digital-puzzles).
Despite those successes, Daly didn’t want to limit Dumbarton House to online outreach. “People do want virtual opportunities, but there is some kind of exhaustion with screen time. It’s important to look for things that are therapeutic and rejuvenating, something people can do as a family. We are an urban green space in a residential community, so we decided to leave our grounds and gardens, which are usually inaccessible, open to the neighbors.”
People use the grounds to jog and walk, have picnics, and work using the free Wi-Fi. “We’ve had very positive social media posts, and multiple families have told me how much they appreciate the space, especially since the playgrounds closed,” Daly says. “This reinforced that it’s important to meet people where they are, and we’re finding that there’s a real, genuine need for that outdoor space. It’s something our community really values, so we will be keeping the gardens open once the museum has reopened.”
Franklin Vagnone, president and CEO of Old Salem Museums & Gardens/Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, also owns an international consulting firm. Through his communications with colleagues around the world, he understood what was coming and got a head start on implementing new online programming.
The museum launched the Old Salem Exploratorium, a series of five- to 10-minute educational videos that have included craft workshops, a seed-saving lab, and behind-the-scenes looks at the collection, and the popular History Nerd Alerts, social media posts that highlight collection items related to illness, health, and medicine.
The museum has also focused on food-related outreach efforts. “The community we serve is in transition,” Vagnone says. “Winston-Salem has gone from being a fairly affluent community to one that’s in need of a lot of help; there’s a lot of food insecurity. So when the public bakeries were closing, our head baker [at the living history site] said, ‘Why don’t I just go in by myself and bake?’”
The museum has donated more than 2,000 loaves of bread to Second Harvest Food Bank. It also turned some of its flower gardens into victory gardens, and the first biweekly harvest resulted in 140 pounds of vegetables going to the food bank.
The garden also produced some unexpected sustenance. “A woman from New York saw one of our Twitter videos where my husband and I are working in the garden, and she sent a message thanking me because the peaceful sound of birds in the background was drowning out the sound of the New York ambulances,” Vagnone says. “That peaceful quality is in itself part of feeding the soul.”
He expects that many of these outreach efforts will become permanent. “Our ability to serve the larger community is too important not to continue. We’ve undergone a drastic shift in the way we operate, and there’s been an amazing transformation of how a living history site can help the community. The community has embraced us—they see us now as a real, tangible community asset, whereas before they might have seen us as a nostalgic and pretty place to walk.”
He also hopes this type of outreach results in more systemic changes among museums and the entire nonprofit community. “This is the kind of DNA we should be swimming in. We should invert the traditional model of focusing only on ourselves, and use our collections, our histories, and our stories to help our communities.”
Reposted from The Art Newspaper
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Morgan Library and Museum and the Museum of the City of New York will increase their visitor capacity to 50% next week under relaxed Covid-19 safety rules unveiled by the state's governor, Andrew M. Cuomo. The New-York Historical Society says it will do so gradually.
Other New York museums are scrutinising their safety procedures in response to Cuomo’s announcement this week that they will be able to admit visitors at half of their normal capacity starting on 26 April. The new limit, raised from 25%, offers a glimmer of hope to institutions that have been financially hamstrung by Covid-19 health restrictions aimed at ensuring social distancing.
MoMA, which reopened to the public on 27 August 2020 after a closure lasting five and a half months in response to the pandemic, says the 50% limit will take effect on Monday but that advance reservations for timed tickets will still be necessary. The Morgan, which reopened to the public on 5 September; the Museum of the City of New York, which reopened on 27 August; and the New-York Historical Society, which reopened on 11 September, similarly urge visitors to make reservations.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, meanwhile, a bellwether institution for institutional policy that reopened on 29 August, has been cautiously expanding the number of visitors it admits while inching toward the previous maximum of 25%. It will not boost its capacity to 50% on Monday, but “we are appreciative of having more room now,” a spokesman says.
A spokeswoman for the Whitney Museum of American Art, which reopened on 3 September, says officials were “thrilled” by Cuomo's announcement. While the museum will not expand admissions to 50% on Monday, she adds, “we are carefully considering how we can safely increase capacity” and “hope to be able to share an update in the coming weeks”.
A spokeswoman for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which reopened on 3 October, says it looks “forward to welcoming additional visitors to the museum under the capacity increase” but is “evaluating the new guidelines to ensure that any future changes align with our enhanced safety measures”.
The evaporation of income from admissions, retail sales and event rentals caused museum revenue to nosedive last year, and the 25% visitor capacity rule adopted in August to pave the way for reopening has largely restrained institutions from making a robust comeback. Cuomo has eased the safety restrictions as the Covid-19 infection rate has declined to the levels seen last November.
The 50% capacity limit taking effect on Monday also applies to New York zoos and aquariums. Movie theatres may increase to 33% next week, and indoor sports arenas can accommodate 25% starting on 19 May.
Racially motivated extremists pose the most lethal domestic terrorism threats to the United States and could increase more this year, according to a new report.
The unclassified intelligence report, released Wednesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, reiterates warnings made by U.S. officials, including FBI Direct Christopher Wray, who testified earlier this month that the threat from domestic violent extremism was “metastasizing” across the country, reports The Guardian.
In addition to racially motivated extremists, the report warns of other domestic threat categories, including animal rights/environmental violent extremists, abortion-related violent extremists, and anti-government/anti-authority violent extremists.
“The IC assesses that domestic violent extremists (DVEs) who are motivated by a range of ideologies and galvanized by recent political and societal events in the United States pose an elevated threat to the Homeland in 2021,” the report summarizes.
The report emphasizes that the most deadly threat comes from racially motivated domestic violent extremists, who officials say are most likely to conduct mass attacks against American civilians, and from militia groups, who are seen as likely to target law enforcement and government officials.
Overall, the report says white supremacists display “the most persistent and concerning transnational connections.”
Also on Wednesday, Anti-Defamation League (ADL)’s Center on Extremism (COE) released findings that show the distribution of white supremacist propaganda, including racist, antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ literature, nearly doubled across America in 2020 to 5,125 reported incidents — an average of 14 per day.
According to ADL, 2020 saw the highest number of propaganda since the group started keeping track. A year-over-year comparison can be seen in the graphic to the right.
The 2020 propaganda appeared in every state except Hawaii, with the highest levels of activity in Texas, Washington, California, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia and Pennsylvania. ADL’S H.E.A.T. Map provides a visual representation detailing incidents by state and nationwide.
Although at least 30 white supremacist groups distributed propaganda in 2020, ADL says three groups — Patriot Front, New Jersey European Heritage Association and Nationalist Social Club — were responsible for 92% of the activity.
ADL released its findings just hours after a gunman fatally shot eight people at three Atlanta-area massage parlors and spas. Although law enforcement has not yet categorized the heinous acts as racially motivated or a hate crime, six of the victims were of Asian descent and seven were women.
The shootings occurred in the wake of a new study that found a 149% surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020, according to CBS News. The report, released this week by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, is based on police department statistics across major U.S. cities.
The findings reflect a growing trend of discrimination against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. Looking at hate crimes in 16 of America’s largest cities, the study found the first spikes began last March and April when COVID-19 cases also increased.
Anne Cheng, a comparative race scholar and professor at Princeton University, told CBS News that the coronavirus has given an outlet to already existing anti-Asian American sentiment.
“It’s part of a very long systemic cultural discrimination against Asians in this country,” she said.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 2,800 hate incidents targeting Asian Americans have been reported, and women have been attacked almost 2.5 times more than men, according to the group Stop AAPI Hate.
Stop AAPI Hate Co-founder Manjusha Kulkarni believes more should be done to enhance public education and community support programs for victims. Kulkarni is also concerned as more students return to school across the country.
“Looking forward, we need to also think about what the impact is going to be on schoolchildren [since] 10% of the incidents reported to us involved youth,” she said. “I know parents are very much concerned about what that looks like for their children.”
The museum field, and cultural institutions in general, have undoubtedly been hit hard by COVID-19. As a result, many museum professionals are finding themselves job searching and considering career transitions at a time with seemingly more questions than answers, and fewer straightforward career paths to follow.
The present circumstances pose unique challenges in navigating an active job search and finding the next step in your career. But from my experience in recruiting, talent program development, and career coaching—at the Oakland Museum of California and in the consulting firm I co-founded—I have found that it is possible to face uncertainty with resilience, by creating a plan with an open mind.
With that in mind, here are some tangible steps to take right now, if you’ve recently been laid off or furloughed and find yourself navigating a job search.
First things first: apply for unemployment. Check on what local city and state government resources are available, and get ready to do some paperwork. Ask your HR team or representatives what resources are being offered, including information about how to navigate unemployment, offboarding, and career support.
This is the most important step in a job search or career transition at any point in your career, and even more so in the current economic climate.
Think about your priorities and long-term goals to identify what you need right now and what you want in the future, then plan your job search accordingly. Apply for roles, including contract or part-time work, that will take care of your needs right now while you are still looking toward future roles and institutions more aligned with your long-term career goals.
Take actual time to pause and reflect on your experience and skills so far—what have you enjoyed, and what doesn’t make sense anymore? Identify and understand your value! What are the tangible skills and experience you bring to a role? What are the soft skills, emotional intelligence, and perspective you bring? What makes you uniquely you in a role? Use these values and strengths to help shape the framework of your job search.
For extra support in looking inward, reach out to friends, colleagues, managers, or mentors to ask them what they think your greatest value is, or what it has been like working with you. In the midst of a big transition, or a sudden job change, an outside perspective can be helpful to identify qualities you may not be able to see in yourself.
Whether you are planning to stay in museums or explore other fields, you should be prepared to pivot. Work has changed across industries during the pandemic, and it will continue to change over the coming months and years. There is opportunity in this change.
Take a thorough look at what is needed right now. The museums we walked out of in mid-March, when the first shelter-in-place regulations were enacted, are not the same museums that are operating right now, and may never be the same museums again. We, as an industry and community, have to change the way we think and work. This means there will be continued shifts in organizational priorities and strategic direction, which result in different staffing needs and expertise.
Are the emerging needs and opportunities ones you can and would like to contribute to? Start researching and brainstorming a list of what they will be. We know visitor experience, community engagement, and digital access will play a huge role in the future of museums; what else? Based on what you have identified, are there holes in your experience you can seek to fill with other roles, education and learning opportunities, or volunteer work if you are looking to fill the time between roles?
If you are looking outside of the museum space, pay attention to industries that are likely hiring right now and what your community needs. Social connection and access to resources that maintain everyone’s health and safety are definitely high on the list, and new jobs, companies, and industries will come out of these needs. Just because you leave the museum field doesn’t mean you will never come back. In fact, think about it as an opportunity to expand and diversify your experience and skills for the benefit of your work in museums. We know the museum field is changing, and we have to look outside of our own space for the resources, experience, and skills needed for this change.
If you are exploring roles outside of museums but want to return eventually, continue to stay connected to the field, to understand its developments and determine how your new skills will add value. Stay in touch with former colleagues, continue to build your community within the field, engage in industry-specific groups and networking opportunities, and pay attention to industry publications and what your favorite institutions are doing. This continued connection and expanded knowledge will help you discover the best time and point of entry back into museums. Understanding the value in your new skills and experience related to what is happening in the field in that given time will help you develop a compelling story as to why a museum should hire you.
An economic downturn has plenty of challenges, but it doesn’t mean you have to give up on a career path or even put it on hold; it means that your trajectory is likely going to look different than you thought, and that is okay. Careers are not linear, and leave it to a global pandemic to flip your best-laid career plans on their head.
All that great value and strength reflection you’ve been doing? Make sure your job search toolkit (résumé, LinkedIn profile, cover letter, portfolio, etc.) reflects it, and then own your story and be prepared to speak to your value in community conversations and interviews.
Update—or overhaul—your resume with your most recent and any missing experience. Do the same for your LinkedIn profile (if you don’t have one, now is a good time to build one). All of your job search documents tell your career story in different formats for potentially different audiences, but they should still tell a consistent story.
You want to show your experience and value. With your résumé or in an interview, don’t just tell potential employers you are resilient—prove it, by giving concrete examples with actual outcomes. The STAR technique is a great model to practice (Situation, Task, Action, Result).
Community plays an incredibly valuable role in job searches—meaning everyone you engage with in your everyday life, including those specific to your field of work, industry, and past roles. Especially in times of crisis and uncertainty, you should connect with that community, ask questions, and share what you are looking for.
We are all navigating the changes to our industry, and industries around us, in real time, and we bring different experiences and perspectives to understanding them. Talking to the people in your community about what they are seeing can expand your knowledge about what types of roles are available and what makes the most sense for your personal experience, immediate needs, and long-term career goals. Especially during this time, when it makes sense to think broadly about work and your career, engaging with your community outside of the museum field can provide invaluable insight to what exists beyond what you may be familiar with.
We are facing the largest unemployment rate we’ve seen in our lifetimes, which means there are a lot more candidates for fewer roles. Engaging with your community to learn about organizations and roles, and asking for referrals, is also an important tool to break through what can feel like a résumé black hole.
If there is something you are interested in but don’t have someone in your community who can directly speak to or support that interest, it is time to grow your community. Don’t hesitate to ask connectors (people in your community who seem to always know someone) to introduce you to someone who can help you. You can also grow your community by joining groups; attending virtual events, workshops, or conferences; or reaching out to someone directly through LinkedIn.
What has become abundantly clear through this pandemic is how powerful and important community is to our well-being. People are seeking new ways to connect and nurture their community, and it’s been heartening to see people be even more open to supporting others’ careers and development during this time. While it can be difficult to reach out to someone you don’t know to ask for insight about their work, organization, and overall career, ask yourself: if someone reached out to you with the same ask, what would you say?
Navigating a job search and/or career transition right now can feel big and daunting. But there is a way to find focus and support amid all the challenges. Start with what you know—yourself—to identify what you need and what you want, embrace the uncertainty and unknown of following those needs, lead with curiosity and an open mind, and lean in to community for connection and support.
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