INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FORCULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
Reposted from AAM
At the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA), diversity, equity, inclusion, access, and anti-racism are commitments that have long been a part of our DNA, both internally and in our work with our community, partners, and other cultural institutions. Over the decades of our existence, we’ve made great strides in these commitments, but we also recognize that they exist on a continuum, and much work remains. In that light, we’ve recently taken our work a step further, collaborating across departments to identify more concrete ways to build equity into our own processes, including new ways of working together as individuals and colleagues moving this organization forward.
OMCA’s commitment to equity began in its founding as the “museum of the people.” It was born in 1969 in the shadow of racial division and protest, amid demonstrations to free Huey Newton, founder of the Black Panther Party, who was on trial across the street from the museum at the Alameda County Courthouse.
Our focus on equity is compelled not only by this history but also by our location in one of the most diverse cities in the country, defined by a history of social justice and activism. Since our founding, we have collaborated with advisory councils and volunteer groups to connect to the communities of Oakland. We have been committed to presenting the multicultural stories of the state, and even more recently, specifically focusing on the untold and undertold stories of California.
Over the past decade, we have worked to live up to these foundational values by diversifying our board, staff, and our audience. We adapted our recruitment process for staff to reduce bias and promote equity, as well as to provide greater access to learning and development opportunities for all. We have also begun to measure the impact we are having on the well-being of our community beyond traditional measures of attendance or financial benchmarks.
By the end of the summer of 2020, the ADT teams presented six high-level priorities supported by some 160 recommendations for short-term actions and long-term strategies, first to the full staff, then to the Executive Team, then to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, and finally to the Board of Trustees.
In January 2021, OMCA undertook a major organizational redesign which included a restructuring of its staff after the final impacts of COVID, and used these recommendations to center anti-racism as a core value and principle in the process. A few of the changes that have taken place since the redesign was implemented in the spring of 2021 include:
The museum is currently in the midst of implementing its new structure, creating new processes and cross-functional teams to move the organization forward. OMCA remains committed to this journey and knows that the work is never done; we will continue to look inward and examine how we can evolve as individuals and colleagues collectively and to share our learnings with the broader museum field.
To reflect on this process and what the organization has been working on over the last few years, OMCA’s Director & CEO Lori Fogarty recently sat down for a conversation with colleagues Johwell Saint-Cilien and L. Autumn King to discuss what the institution has learned, and how OMCA continues to move this work forward. Watch the video below to hear their reflections.
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Reposted from Security Management Magazine
A complete disregard for the law. A lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse with regards to harming others. According to the Mayo Clinic, these are only a couple of the symptoms that could describe someone afflicted with antisocial personality disorder.
They also aptly describe Mother Nature—especially when she throws a tornado, flood, wildfire, or any other natural disasters into the path of an organization, its facilities, and its workforce.
The United States is home to more tornados than anywhere else in the world, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Before 1991, it was rare to see more than 1,000 tornadoes within a year. But between 1991 and 2010, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center recorded a yearly average of 1,228 tornadoes.
More recently, there were 1,517 tornadoes in 2019, which directly resulted in 42 deaths; 1,075 tornadoes in 2020 linked to 76 deaths; and 1,174 tornadoes between 1 January 2021 and 25 November 2021, during which 14 people died. This does not include the series of tornadoes that tore through Kentucky and other U.S. states on 10 December 2021, which killed at least 90 people—a death toll that may still be increasing.
Statistics with hurricanes are not much more encouraging. According to data from the National Hurricane Center, in 2017 there were 17 named storms that emerged out of the Atlantic Ocean; in 2018 there were 15; in 2019 that number climbed to 18; and in 2020 it jumped to 30. Before 2020, the last time there were more than 19 named storms within a year was in 2005 during which there were 28, and before that there were 20 storms in 1933.
But after the storm passes—whether literal or figurative—businesses and communities are left to pick up the pieces. By now, whether because of a natural disaster or instead thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, most organizations have a business continuity plan, while “anti-fragility” and “disaster recovery plan” have become industry watchwords.
Having business continuity and recovery plans in place—especially ones specifically tailored to a natural disaster—can help protect a business and curb the amount of downtime that an organization might spend returning to an operational status. Various organizations, such as government agencies and insurance providers, offer resources and guidance for businesses—advising on what an individual company or facility can do to prepare or protect itself.
“It doesn’t matter what the threat vector is, the end goal is still the same: that you’re able to survive the situation,” says Nicole McDargh, CPP, vice president of safety and loss prevention for pizza giant Domino’s. “This is where that anti-fragility bent comes from.”
While she aims to focus on “controlling the controllables,” McDargh also acknowledges that when it comes to natural disasters, significant elements and impacts cannot be reigned in by an organization or person, even after a storm has passed. “You have to solve for the things you can solve,” she says.
Planning to resist a weather event is difficult given its ability to decimate entire communities and regions. There’s not exactly a way to fortify a facility against an earthquake if the ground opens underneath it. So instead, McDargh opts to not only consider every bad thing that could happen to a facility or its employees, but to also consider how to limit any damage.
“Not solve for it or eradicate it—but mitigate it. What can I do to make it the least amount of damage to my people or to my business?” McDargh says. “How do I get back up to speed?” This train of thought is part of her larger aim: not only getting the business back up and running and ensuring employees and facilities are safe, but also learning from previous incidents and returning to normal operations faster than before.
For an organization looking to prove itself resilient to a natural disaster, the planning phase must take into account steps well before an event blips on a radar, as well as look beyond its own walls.
After a weather event, one key consideration to consider while planning for recovery and getting back to speed sooner rather than later is coordination with the local community. While threats from inside or external attackers might target a specific business or person, a climate event doesn’t differentiate between one building and another, much less one person and another. The value in having previously connected and developed a positive relationship with other community stakeholders—including churches, first responders, community centers, and utilities—is that this network can assist in a speedier recovery.
According to Nora O’Brien, a business continuity planning expert and CEO for Connect Consulting Services, organizations should go beyond networking and a general awareness. She recommends having memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with other businesses or organizations that a company may need to rely on during recovery efforts.
For example, a hospital may want an MOU with a childcare company, one that outlines the number of employees needed to care for hospital staff’s children in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency—allowing doctors, nurses, administrators, and other staff to focus on caring for those injured by a weather event instead of how to get home to their children.
O’Brien also suggests that local networking relationships should take these partnerships a step further, potentially conducting drills or other training together. At the very least, there should be meetings between stakeholders to discuss readily available resources and establish expectations, such as whether community shelters be set up in the local high school’s gymnasium or a hotel’s ballroom.
“The more you do in advance, the higher levels of community resilience,” O’Brien says.
While reopening for-profit businesses immediately benefits the companies returning to normal hours and operations, a 2016 paper from the think tank RAND Corporation, What Role Does the Private Sector Have in Supporting Disaster Recovery, and What Challenges Does It Face in Doing So?, noted that the benefits are felt throughout the surrounding community. “Businesses’ ability to reopen and ensure few disruptions in payroll is most critical for economic recovery,” the report said, and these organizations can provide goods or services, such as logistics, even during response and recovery.
Private businesses’ assistance to an area hit by a disaster is sometimes quantified through monetary donations to relief funds or regional or specialized recovery funds and nonprofits. Other times, such as within a community network, it’s not about the money.
McDargh recalls that local Domino’s restaurants sent over food to line workers trying to fix power lines downed by Hurricane Ida around early September, even though there had been no call for a delivery order. From the perspective of the company, such scenarios are symbiotic. One organization can feed those in need of food, fueling the people who will help refuel power supplies, supplies that in turn help bring the company back to 100 percent operational capacity, along with the rest of the community.
“Without you doing your job, you’re not going to be able to help me do my job,” McDargh says. “I’ve got backup generators, but I need power eventually, so I need to keep you fed.” And McDargh has found that in general, those receiving a service are willing to reciprocate, whether that reciprocal behavior presents as restored power, shelter for employees and their families, additional fuel for generators, or other goods and services.
While natural disasters do not discriminate, the unexpected outcome during recovery efforts is that everyone in a community is united in their attempts to not only survive, but thrive in the aftermath, hopefully coming out stronger and faster than before. “Nothing brings us together like an absolutely hideous event,” McDargh says.
When it comes to determining who in the community can help in this fashion, the nature of the network will depend on the nature of the business.
While a superstore might have an emergency facility that can withstand a storm or tornado, a power plant or a luxury goods store probably cannot make its entire site available to the public given its need for high security in at least some areas. Instead of shelter, a different kind of exchange of services or goods would likely be more beneficial to the overall community as well as to the individual organization.
When putting together this kind of recovery plan, McDargh notes that it’s also wise to look up and down the organization’s vertical. For example, a grocery store might need to rely on a nearby warehouse to resupply its shelves, but what if that warehouse is somehow cut off from the store or major highways altogether? And what is the plan if that happens—who can help and how can that person or group be helped in return?
Failing to have those conversations and build those relationships before the next storm or disaster hits, especially after weathering one before, can not only hurt an organization as it works to recover but also further down the road.
“If it happens again—and it will happen again—you were already unprepared the first time, but now it’s almost negligent,” McDargh says. “You know that it can happen, and you know that there were some things that you possibly could have done better.”
Reposted from Inc.
There have been endless think pieces written in the past few months about what exactly is driving the so-called Great Resignation. Is it people leaving to start their own independent thing? Is it fed-up low-wage workers using a tiny bit of new leverage to demand less awful treatment? Or is it more about professionals who can afford to be choosy searching for jobs that better align with their values and aspirations?
There are certainly plenty of individual cases in which each of these scenarios apply, but if you want a less anecdotal and more data-driven explanation of the Great Resignation I suggest a recent MIT Sloan Management Review article by Donald Sull, Charles Sull, and Ben Zweig, who are an MIT professor, a founder, and a CEO, respectively.
Together the authors recently conducted a massive analysis of both workplace data from Revelio Labs (where Ben Zweig is CEO) and more than a million Glassdoor reviews. All this information allowed the team not only to see which companies have been struggling with higher rates of attrition during the Great Resignation than their industry averages, but also what employees were saying about those companies (via the Glassdoor reviews).
What were employees complaining about at companies that were losing the most workers during the current tsunami of resignations? It wasn't mainly pay.
"Much of the media discussion about the Great Resignation has focused on employee dissatisfaction with wages. How frequently and positively employees mentioned compensation, however, ranks 16th among all topics in terms of predicting employee turnover," the authors report.
Instead, the biggest predictor of employee resignations was a toxic culture. But other unexpected factors also seemed important. Here are the top five predictors of high rates of attrition the research uncovered.
Toxic culture. "A toxic corporate culture is by far the strongest predictor of industry-adjusted attrition and is 10 times more important than compensation in predicting turnover," report the authors. What does toxic mean exactly? The authors explain the main elements include "failure to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion; workers feeling disrespected; and unethical behavior."
Job insecurity and reorganization. It's probably no shock that feeling like you could lose your job at any moment makes you start thinking about getting another job. "Previous research has found that employees' negative assessments of their company's future outlook is a strong predictor of attrition," the authors point out.
High levels of innovation. This one is less intuitive, but the authors found "that the more positively employees talked about innovation at their company, the more likely they were to quit." They suspect that's because innovation is hard -- and hard on workers. Innovation may be interesting and inspiring but it can also burn people out.
Failure to recognize performance. "Employees are more likely to leave companies that fail to distinguish between high performers and laggards when it comes to recognition and rewards," write the authors. This isn't about compensation. It's about feeling seen and valued when you do excellent work.
Poor response to Covid-19. Again no shocker here, but companies bungling their way through the pandemic get a stark reminder of the consequences of their incompetence in the article: "Employees who mentioned Covid-19 more frequently in their reviews or talked about their company's response to the pandemic in negative terms were more likely to quit."
The article goes into detail about the study methodology and also offers advice to bosses looking to head off resignations (offering career development, which other experts have also stressed, and more flexibility top the list), so check it out if you're interested in a fascinating deep dive on the subject.
But the headline takeaway is that most analyses of the Great Resignation are getting the most important drivers of the whole phenomenon wrong. No one likes to be underpaid. But it turns out people like disrespect and insecurity even less.
During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations were confronted with the challenge of securing remote and hybrid environments via integrated security solutions that were deployed in a pre-COVID-19 environment.
What seemed like a momentary disruption to business as usual has now become the new normal in the corporate world. All signs point to remote and hybrid work looking set to stay, with Gartner predicting that 51 percent of all knowledge workers and 32 percent of all employees worldwide would be working remotely by the end of 2021. In the United States specifically, Gartner predicted remote workers will account for 53 percent of the workforce in 2022. This dynamic shift has led to an increase of more than 23 percent in public cloud spending just to support these numbers.
One thing is clear, corporations are deftly and swiftly embracing this new virtual frontier. In the push to do so, however, some companies may rush forward without fully understanding how too many discrepancies or inconsistencies could impede their progression to deliver an effective security platform in today’s remote environment.
When there are unmitigated inconsistencies within an organization’s security management system, it could effectively appear that the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing. When planning for a return-to-work environment, these discrepancies can present significant risk as well as economic impact and need to be overcome before the remote work evolution ends in a corporate dissolution.
In strengthening one’s organization to withstand the challenges of tomorrow, it is critical to focus on the three most common disconnects taking place today, primarily around standardization, personnel, and system maintenance.
Whether it is related to supporting two different access control platforms simultaneously or trying to oversee a video solutions system that has numerous site/location naming configurations as every vendor has their own preferred format, a lack of standardization generates a disparate environment, thus preventing true platform oversight, administration, and visualization. This is a real challenge for anything beyond a single building approach, commonly resulting in unnecessary spending to replace non-compliant equipment and an unclear usage footprint with multiple forms of credentials being issued thus allowing ghost credentials—credentials left active from employees who leave the company—to litter the systems.
Often falling low on the task list, ghost credentials are one of the most overlooked items providing undue risks and popping up out of the shadows during the most unfortunate of times. Nevertheless—and despite significant security investments by organizations—they continue to float around haunting even the largest of multinationals.
But how could a single item like a credential impact an entire company? It’s simple. Without standardization across disparate systems and setting expiry dates, former employees or contractors may continue to access corporate spaces after their departure with no oversight of what they may be doing or what confidential information they may be seeing or accessing, because they may still be listed as employees or contractors in other systems.
In some cases, there could be up to five or six times more employees in organizational databases than are actually on the staff, a QCIC case study found it is not unusual for major organizations to discover that former employees have simply continued going into their buildings and branches to use their facilities, access data, and potentially expose personnel to undue harm. As organizations begin to shake off the aftereffects of seeing millions of Americans quit their jobs as part of the Great Resignation, what may seem like a perfect time for companies to reassess and realign their priorities has instead been pushed aside to rapidly fill vacancies and redirect resources.
Moreover, across vast geographies in disparate environments, many organizations overspend on office space because they have no clear oversight on actual use. We commonly see large organizations around the world investing in office space designed to accommodate the total number of employees they have without realizing that only a fraction of their current staff is truly using that space. When organizations lack true oversight and standardization this ultimately leads to uninformed decision-making in terms of managing their portfolios from both an operational and a security perspective.
When organizations utilize a secured-by-design approach, this initiative improves the security of buildings and their immediate surrounding areas to create a safer environment to live, work, or visit—inclusive of system standardization and security harmonization—they can overcome disconnects between disparate environments and locations. Thus, delivering real-time oversight of all buildings, areas, people, property, and assets. By cleansing and merging multiple databases into a single source, companies remove duplicate, invalid, or expired records, and they can gain a better understanding of who is using what and how.
Globally, organizations that are being tasked with doing more with less are also being challenged by a reduction in the number of qualified personnel they have available to implement and manage security cohesively. Regional and fiscal constraints, as well as long upskilling times, can leave organizations overwhelmed and vulnerable.
Because of this, leaders tend to depend heavily on a handful of competent, skilled, senior-level staff who unfortunately take their knowledge with them when they leave, thereby creating an internal knowledge divide.
This default gap in skill sets forces smaller teams to take on multiple roles often leading junior staff to operate with little oversight or be thrust into critical scenarios where experience and specialized training are crucial. This could result in a lack of sufficient certified personnel with enough real-life experience and a dependency on one instead of a pool of many.
In addition, corporations heavily rely on third-party vendors that are contracted through longstanding relationships, rather than being selected for their technical specialties. This can often result in decision making that lacks vital strategic direction from industry experts.
Virtual system administration and application support enable continuity and resource optimization. In a holistic security environment, hosted either on the premises or in the cloud, organizations can reinforce their security teams with external experts to enable continuity in procedure and policy management, system administration, and software maintenance.
As employees struggle to find the elusive work–life balance, many are choosing to step away from their current roles to pursue a career in alternate industries or leave the workforce in general. With this mass exodus, organizations are rushing to fill the void however the time, as well as budget, needed to upskill existing staff shrinks day-by-day.
Therefore, companies are looking for some T.R.U.S.T (technological resources utilizing system transparency), yet they are unsure where to turn.
When system support and maintenance parameters are not established or followed correctly, they create vulnerabilities that open organizations to potential data leaks, repetitive undocumented issues as well as multiple system points of failure.
The assumption that things are being done right, often, and as scheduled, has found many an organization on the wrong side of a basic software upgrade with maintenance remaining far down on the priority list in established environments.
Platforms not operating on the minimum supported version and a lack of cross-system awareness creates vulnerabilities—yet in many organizations, all those boxes have been checked and the assumption is that everything is in order. But checking boxes doesn’t mean the task is being accomplished correctly, with assumptions signaling a break in communications leading to an overall lack of consistent security management. Therefore, when a manufacturer announces a vulnerability, teams frequently must scramble to assess their environment to learn if they have been exposed and what potential impact that brings to their security program at large.
Organizations need verification, qualification, and the surety that their security requirements and systems are updated and standardized. Developing a plan that backs a 24/7 “always on” model ensures organizations that any support and maintenance disconnects are overcome quickly and any vulnerabilities are mitigated swiftly.
As organizations move into a new workplace model, the risk of disconnects has become greater than ever. People and systems will be more widely dispersed across more locations, increasing the odds of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing.
To curb the growing risks this change brings, organizations must move now to address the most basic disconnects and build on that foundation for a more integrated, holistic approach to security.
What if every entry level museum job was designed to be the first rung in a career ladder for anyone who desires to climb? How could that change who wants to work in a museum, and whether they are willing to commit to the long-term? How might it help museums build a workforce that reflects the communities they serve?
Even pre-pandemic, museums were grappling with challenges related to labor and equity, and the past two years have only raised the stakes. Responding to the most recent COVID impact survey by the Alliance (publication pending), directors ranked “labor and skills shortage” third in a list of disruption threatening their businesses in the next year, topped only by the pandemic itself and the slow recovery of travel and tourism. Over half of respondents are having trouble filling open positions, particularly for visitor-facing roles (guest services, admissions, frontline, and retail), essential support (facilities, maintenance, and security), and education. These positions not only suffer a disproportionate share of pandemic stress, they also typically offer relatively low pay and few opportunities for advancement.
To build a workforce that supports their goals and aspirations and aligns with their mission and values, museums will have to rethink many aspects of labor, from how positions are designed to the benefits they provide in the short and long term. For this reason, I was very intrigued to come across several recent job postings in which the employer outlined where an entry level position fit into a potential career development path within the organization. As museums strive to attract and retain the staff they need, build a diverse workforce, and provide good, stable jobs, mapping position openings onto pathways for advancement could be an excellent practice to add to the HR toolkit.
Here’s the most detailed example I came across in my browsing:
The Barna Group, a research company that specializes in Christian faith and culture, includes an “Advancement Plan” with their job postings. For example, the description for Research Coordinator explains that “The next step for a Research Coordinator is dependent upon the individual’s interest. A coordinator may begin to manage projects, with coaching and oversight from experienced colleagues, prior to transitioning into a role as Associate. This provides an opportunity for learning and development before the coordinator has acquired the necessary broad spectrum of experience to take on additional responsibility and is an important stepping stone to advancement.” The posting also emphasizes not only what a person in this position will do, but also what they will learn.
Last November, on this blog, director Margaret Koch described how the Bullock Texas State History Museum is building pathways for advancement inside the museum, including offering a wide variety of master classes for staff on a variety of issues such as technical skills and management training. To build paths out of what all too often become dead-end jobs, the Bullock hopes to create “hybrid” positions in which people work half time in a front-line job, and spend the other half apprenticing in another department such as exhibitions, education, communications, or development. I love the idea of designing entry level positions as training opportunities for advancement. For one thing, it would help museums to diversify their applicant pool by relying less on traditional academic credentials, and more on the skills, abilities, life experience, and character of candidates. On-the-job training and carefully crafted pathways for advancement can help create a future in which the staff of museums, including the people at the highest levels of leadership, reflect the demographics of the communities they serve.
That sounds like a good first rung for a ladder to a brighter future.
Interested in exploring this topic in more depth? This article from the Society for Human Resource Management provides an excellent overview of ways to develop career paths and ladders in organizations.
Reposted from Smithsonian Magazine
Last Wednesday, more than 70 museums and cultural institutions in the Netherlands temporarily reopened their storied galleries as makeshift nail salons, barber shops and gyms. Organizers of the coordinated event described it as a lighthearted protest of the government’s inconsistent Covid-19 restrictions. Under the rules, theaters, bars, cafés and museums must remain shuttered, while hair and nail salons and gyms are permitted to open, reports Anna Holligan for BBC News.
Cultural institutions and venues have been closed since the country entered a national lockdown in December, in response to a surge in the Covid-19 pandemic attributed to the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
Even as infection case numbers reached record highs, the Dutch government relaxed some of its lockdown restrictions last week, as hospitalizations fell, “reopening nonessential shops until 5 p.m., as well as gyms, hairdressers, nail salons and brothels,” reports Claire Moses for the New York Times.
The Dutch art sector, still restricted from opening to the public, responded with a coordinated act of civil disobedience. At the Van Gogh Museum, manicurists created nail designs inspired by the Impressionist painter’s flowering trees and starry night skies. At Amsterdam’s royal concert hall, barbers offered haircuts during orchestra rehearsals, per BBC News. Meanwhile, patrons of the Amsterdam Museum rolled out yoga mats next to priceless paintings while actors performed plays in the hallways, reports Tessa Solomon for ARTnews.
Performance artists Sanne Wallis de Vries and Diederik Ebbinge organized the protest. On the event’s website, they billed the daylong event as “a playful initiative to draw attention to the dire situation in the cultural sector.”
Some institutions chose not to participate after local officials threatened fines, reports the Post. And while some 30 mayors across the country expressed support for the cause, others such as Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema stated that she would not permit the protest to occur, according to the New York Times.
Despite the mayor’s statements, Emilie Gordenker, the director of the Van Gogh Museum, decided to go through with the planned event, according to BBC News.
“A museum visit is a safe visit, and equally important as going to a nail salon, perhaps more so,” she says. “We just ask them to be consistent... make the rules in a way everyone understands them. At this point that seems to be lacking.”
Reposted from TimeOut
When Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Chicago's proof-of-vaccination mandate last week, the order only applied to indoor dining and fitness venues, as well as entertainment and recreation venues where food or beverages are served. But when the affected businesses begin requiring guests to present a copy of their vax card (and a photo ID, if they're 16 or older) on January 3, some of Chicago's most prominent museums will follow suit.
In the days since Mayor Lightfoot's press conference announcing Chicago's new proof-of-vaccination policy, the Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Shedd Aquarium and the National Museum of Mexican Art have announced that visitors will need to present a vax card for entry. In fact, the Museum of Science and Industry and the National Museum of Mexican Art have already enacted the policy—the rest will begin requiring proof of vaccination on January 3, along with the city's bars, restaurants and indoor entertainment venues.
Even though Chicago museums are "indoor entertainment venues," the halls containing exhibitions technically aren't covered under the current language of the Chicago vaccination requirement. In a statement to NBC 5 Chicago, a representative for the city clarified that, "it is only the dining area (food or drink) within a museum that needs to abide by the requirement."
While the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry and Shedd Aquarium currently operate cafes and restaurants that are covered by the city's vaccination requirement, it's clear that local museums are approaching the coming weeks with an abundance of caution as case numbers in Chicago (and Illinois) are at an all-time high. In an email sent to guests, the Art Institute of Chicago explained that the the museum is requiring proof of vaccination "In an effort to ensure that our museum is as safe as possible for all."
If you're planning on visiting any of the aforementioned museums in the coming weeks, here's what you'll need to provide upon entry:
While other prominent local institutions like the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Chicago History Museum and the DuSable Museum of African American History haven't yet announced whether or not guests will be required to provide proof of vaccination, it's entirely possible that they'll fall in line with their peers. If you're planning to check out some amazing museum exhibitions in the new year, you should probably bring your vax card.
In the museum experience world, making visitors feel welcome is serious business. Our goal is to exceed guests’ standards for positive experiences, and nothing undermines that goal like a lack of inclusivity or accessibility. When a visitor feels unwelcome, it has a pervasive effect on their whole visit, making it difficult or even impossible for them to feel comfortable enough to interpret information, learn, and connect. But the good news is, any museum staff person coming in contact with your visitors can transform this outcome, giving visitors the sense of comfort and belonging that will contribute to an exceptional experience.
As a twelve-year visitor experience professional—and one who is so passionate about positive museum experiences that I recently wrote a book about them—I have watched museums become more conscious of this dynamic. As they embrace their role as community gathering places, they are recognizing their responsibility to serve their entire communities, and nowhere is this a more urgent priority than for those directly interfacing with visitors. To learn how museums are tackling this urgent priority, I talked to visitor experience professionals around the country to learn what new approaches are taking root in making front-line museum staff into strong advocates for diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion.
Wanessa Tillman, the Director of Visitor Services at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, understands just how much of a priority DEAI is for the front line. Case in point: the department publishes a monthly newsletter, The Gardner Gazette, where DEAI is a frequent topic, and sometimes the sole focus of an issue. As part of onboarding, new hires receive a copy of the newsletter and attend implicit bias training. Tillman sees these as crucial steps in setting up the team for success. “We need our department to be reflective of our community, and ready to receive that entire community,” she explains.
The Gardner’s strategic plan tasks each department with embedding DEAI principles into its work. For the Visitor Services department, this has meant developing its own DEAI plan, which focuses on scrutinizing how bias can derail interpersonal interactions. To achieve this, staff are participating in a regular reading group to discuss texts like Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Anthony Greenwald and Mahzarin Banaji and What Can a Body Do? by Sara Hendren and examine how they apply to their work.
At the Field Museum, Michael Padilla, Visitor Services Team Leader, and Darnell Williams, Director of Visitor Services, are also doing their part to galvanize the institution’s DEAI work. Part of the team’s role involves helping the museum celebrate heritage months, including Black History Month, Latinx Heritage Month, Native American History Month, Women’s History Month, and Pride Month. The front-line staff are the primary face of these celebrations for visitors, informing them about related programming, passing out commemorative pins, and getting them excited overall to celebrate different cultures and identities. During Women’s History Month, an initiative called “Her Stories” highlights different women-identifying staff members on the front line and “celebrates their stories, their wins, and where they came from,” Padilla says.
The team also participates in Customer Service Week, a museum-wide celebration and discussion that takes places in the first week of October. “During this time, each day has a different focus,” Williams explains. “For example, one day we will focus on accessibility. And on that day, we talk openly about accessibility, we focus on how we can make our accessibility better and we share it with our entire organization.” During one Customer Service Week, for instance, Padilla gained a stronger appreciation of the museum’s sensory backpacks program, and decided to make it a focus for the whole team to understand the backpacks and be better able to explain their purpose and use to guests. Padilla was recognizing something key about visitor services staff: that they act as the critical connector between initiative and guest, turning a great idea into a reality on the ground.
The team is also considering what it can do to break down language barriers with guests to make those whose first language is not English feel more welcome. Williams encourages front-line staff to use Duolingo, a free mobile app that teaches “bite-sized” language lessons in a few minutes a day, to start learning some basic phrases they can deploy. “One of our staff chose to learn Russian!” Williams says admiringly.
Another museum focusing on language barriers in the Neon Museum in Las Vegas. This October, the museum began offering guided tours of its collection in Spanish, and it is currently working to raise funding to include ASL interpreters at programs and on certain tour offerings.
In addition to language, the museum is also working to expand the content of its tours to be more inclusive. It is currently hiring a Tour Development Coordinator who will be tasked with creating tours specific to the experiences of Las Vegas’s Black, Latinx, Indigenous, LGBT, and Jewish communities. The tours will provide visitors with a deeper dive into Las Vegas history from both first-person and scholarly perspectives. Rob Wilson, the museum’s Director of Guest Experience, says the first tour should be available by January 2022. He says the museum is taking these steps partly to encourage repeat visitation and gain visitor affection, but mostly because they want to be accessible and welcoming to all.
As these examples show, accessibility and inclusion are not just concepts to think about. They are calls to action, to do the work of including and providing access in big and small ways every day. Front-line staff can be the natural people to start this work, but they need training to learn how, especially because they are often emerging professionals newer to the field. They need to be empowered to understand the needs of communities different from their own and learn to embrace experiences and meaning across a range of human ability. Invest in them for greater insight on how to better serve your publics, and you will receive a maximum return.
ere are some parting takeaways from my conversations with visitor service teams:
Reposted from The New York Times
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has agreed to increase the salaries of its security guards, part of an effort to ease staffing shortages that have arisen as the institution is buffeted by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Like many businesses, health care facilities and cultural organizations, the Met has struggled in recent weeks with employee absences, at times closing multiple galleries to cope with a security staff reduced, on the worst days, by as much as a third because of illness.
On one day in early January, for example, some 80 of the museum’s roughly 430 galleries were closed, including rooms displaying medieval, Egyptian, Chinese, European and American art and objects.
But while the immediate staffing issue is largely related to the surge of the highly contagious Omicron variant, the museum has also had a longer-term problem hiring guards to rebuild its staff after layoffs in 2020 that came in response to the pandemic.
In August 2020, five months after it had closed its doors and as the financial impact of the pandemic deepened, the Met furloughed about 120 guards who worked at the main museum on Fifth Avenue or at two satellites, the Met Cloisters and the Met Breuer. Those guards were later laid off, the museum said.
Since then, the Met has hired back dozens of those guards, and said recently that it had openings for 40 more. But like many service-oriented organizations and businesses, it has also encountered an unusually competitive labor market that has made attracting job candidates more difficult.
Until last month, guards starting at the Met had been paid $15.51 an hour, just above the $15 minimum wage for fast food workers in New York state. Now guards are paid a starting wage of $16.50 as part of an agreement with Local 1503 of District Council 37, which represents guards and maintainers at the museum.
“The hiring issues are largely based on pay,” said Freddi Goldstein, a spokeswoman for District Council 37, which is involved in continuing contract negotiations with the Met. “We’re working with the museum and we’re helping to bring those rates up, but certainly pay has been an issue over time.”
The wage increase comes as several museum employees said the morale of some guards had sunk because they felt worn out and undervalued while working in often difficult circumstances. Last month, several nonunion employee-run groups within the museum, including one called the Collections Care Group Leadership Team, sent a letter to Daniel Weiss, the Met’s president and chief executive, and Max Hollein, the Met’s director, saying, “We recognize that our union colleagues feel unappreciated and unseen.”
The Met’s main building on Fifth Avenue is now served by a staff of some 300 full-time guards versus the 404 that had been assigned there before the pandemic, museum officials said. They added that the decrease had been partially driven by the fact that the museum is not open as many hours as before and by a new way of deploying guards that emphasizes targeted patrols over stationary posts.
Still, officials at the Met said they hope that the higher wages would help with hiring and noted that they stood by their workers when the museum closed in March 2020 by keeping all employees on the payroll for months.
“I’m enormously proud of our collective staff,” Weiss said by telephone. “They have stepped forward to protect the institution and preserve our mission.”
Under the new wage agreement, existing guards receiving $15.51 an hour will also be paid the new starting wage of $16.50 an hour. District Council 37 said that average pay among guards at the museum was around $20 an hour.
The new rate places the Met ahead of the American Museum of Natural History, where guards, represented there by its Local 1306 of District Council 37, are paid $15.51 an hour to start. Entry-level guards at the Museum of Modern Art, represented by 32BJ S.E.I.U., a local chapter of the Service Employees International Union, are paid $21.65.
As the Omicron variant spread in recent weeks, other museums have experienced staff shortages because of illness. For example, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington is closed until later this month, and its National Museum of Natural History, was closed briefly amid a shortage of visitor services staff but has now reopened.
In New York City, where record numbers of Covid-19 cases have been reported, the Met has reduced its visitor capacity. Anne Canty, a spokeswoman for the American Museum of Natural History, said its galleries had remained open except for the museum’s Butterfly Conservatory, which has been closed for several weeks because of shortages among specialized employees and volunteers.
Amanda Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Museum of Modern Art, said that, while some employees had been out because of the impact of Covid, no galleries had closed.
Until recent weeks, the number of galleries closed at the Met on Fifth Avenue had been more modest, though the closing of any one section has the potential to disappoint a visitor. Dan Nazzaro, for instance, traveled to the museum from Parsippany, N.J., on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when two European Sculpture and Decorative Arts galleries were closed, as well as several in the American Wing.
Nazzaro said he had visited specifically to view an American Wing gallery displaying an 18th-century cabriole-leg Massachusetts settee and other furniture. But on this day it was cordoned off with a rope and a sign that read “temporarily closed.” Gazing at the objects inside, Nazzaro said he wished that the museum had used its website to list gallery closings in real time.
Museum leaders have said they are confident the Met’s staff, visitors and collection continued to be safe, even as staff shortages became more pronounced in early January. Regina Lombardo, the Met’s chief of security, said in an interview that the museum had determined that it was more effective to assign guards to patrol and move them from place to place, sometimes based on information from cameras, than to always keep them at fixed posts.
But a larger staff was still in order, museum officials said, although fewer guards of late appear to be calling in sick. The Met said it had just hired seven new guards and planned to hire more. Lombardo said she believed the pay increase would help accomplish that, adding: “We’re fishing in a bigger pond.”
Reposted from The Art Newspaper
Getting into the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles involves making an online timed-entry reservation, paying general admissions ($18 for adults, less for seniors and students, free for members and children under 12) and, more recently, wearing a surgical, KN95, N95 or KF94 face mask. That last requirement, instituted in mid-January, is a first for an art museum in California or elsewhere in the US, although others may be following suit in the coming weeks and months.
Amy Shapiro, deputy director of the museum, says that the institution’s “guiding principle throughout the pandemic has been to put the safety of our staff and visitors first. With the rising cases of the Omicron variant, alongside efficacy studies on which masks work best, we made the decision to update our mask policy for staff and visitors”.
LA MoCA’s policy, she says, stemmed from overall regulations set by the city of Los Angeles, which requires proof of full vaccination to enter the museum, with exemptions only permitted for those unable to take the vaccine due to a medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief. “Those exempt,” she adds, “will need to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to visiting.”
The rules about what visitors to museums are required to do or provide in order to enter these institutions is a mixed bag, based on laws in the local community, state or just within the museums themselves.
“Frankly, it’s a patchwork, and places are changing rules and practices as infection rates change their communities,” says Laura Roberts, a museum consultant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She notes that some institutions require proof of vaccination and timed entry tickets in order to limit the number of people in the building at one time, while others do not.
Bans on mask mandates in all public schools and government buildings in Florida and Texas do not apply to private museums, but some of these institutions tend to make mask-wearing optional perhaps to avoid incurring the wrath of state officials and members of the public. The Dallas Museum of Art’s website informs prospective visitors that as of 21 October 2021, “face coverings are no longer required indoors for fully vaccinated visitors and staff; however, face coverings are recommended to maximise protection from the Delta and Omicron variants per CDC guidance”. On the other hand, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston requires face masks be worn indoors at all its locations.
In Florida, the Tampa Museum of Art “no longer requires the use of face masks to visit indoor galleries and leaves the decision of mask usage up to each individual for their own safety and the safety of others”, while the policy at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota holds that “face masks are expected, but not required to be worn”. The Pérez Art Museum Miami has a stricter policy, with facial coverings “required for all visitors—ages two and older—and museum staff in accordance with CDC and Miami-Dade County guidelines”. The Pérez also promotes one-way movement through museum galleries, and hand sanitising stations are located throughout the galleries, lobby and outdoor areas, in order to limit congestion and the potential spread of infection.
The patchwork of rules is also found in Washington, DC, where all visitors aged two and up to the National Gallery of Art are required to wear masks indoors, but as of 15 January those 12 and older planning to eat at the museum (or at any café or restaurant in the district) will need to prove that they have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine; beginning 15 February, proof of a second does will be required.
The Cleveland Museum of Art is no longer requiring all visitors to submit to a temperature screening, while the more cautious Harvard Art Museums mandate visitors wear masks and provide a proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 PCR test. Those face masks also must “cover both the nose and mouth of the wearer and must provide a tight fit against the face. Unacceptable face coverings include single-layer cloth face coverings, bandanas hanging loosely and not secured under the chin, masks with exhalation valves/vents, and coverings made from loosely woven material or highly elastic fabric”.
The J. Paul Getty Museum is “considering the mask issue”, according to a spokesperson, although the museum’s current rules are clearer about what is not accepted—“gaiters, bandanas, scarves, ski masks, balaclavas or masks with an exhalation valve”—than what is.
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