SFMOMA releases a plan for reform

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Alan Morris

After weeks of upheaval over its handling of accusations of racism from former employees, which resulted in the resignations of five senior staff members including its chief curator of painting and sculpture, Gary Garrels, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art announced a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Plan to be completed by December.

The museums troubles started on 30 May, when it responded to nationwide protests over brutality against African Americans, including the police killing of George Floyd, with a post on its Instagram account featuring Glenn Ligons work Were Black and Strong (I). Taylor Brandon, an African American woman who formerly worked at the museum, slammed the post as hypocritical, calling the response a “cop-out” when some in the top ranks were “profiteers of racism”. Her comment was deleted, leading to an uproar, with at least two organisations—No Neutral Alliance (NNA) and xSFMOMA—calling for a revamp of the museums hiring, collecting, and programming policies, and for the museums director Neal Benezra to step down.

Benezras public apology received even more flak. Correspondence posted online by NNA shows the director attempted to meet with Brandon and the organisation in June, but the museum could not meet preliminary demands. These included and “ethnic/racial percentage breakdown of current employees and work in the collection” and a consultancy fee for Brandon and her group.

Since then, five senior staff members have departed or are on their way out—the most recent is its chief curator of painting and sculpture, Gary Garrels, who was denounced by inhouse staff for making what they saw as racist remarks. After a presentation about new acquisitions by artists of colour and women, he reportedly said: “Dont worry, we will definitely still continue to collect white artists.” And in a recent staff meeting, he said that to avoid collecting the art of white men would be “reverse discrimination”. Garrels apologised for his comments and resigned last week; he is due to leave the museum on 31 July.

Also to depart are Nan Keeton, the deputy director in charge of external relations, who defended the deletion of Brandons comment during a staff meeting; Marisa Robisch, the director of human resources; Cindi Hubbard, recruitment and staffing manager; and Ann von Germeten, chief marketing and communications officer.

The recent DEI declaration was crafted after a series of in-house meetings, some apparently wiRead More – Source