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Minneapolis’ two biggest art museums struggle to increase diversity

September 7, 2018

Like most museums nationally, the Twin Cities two largest art centers are struggling to bring more diversity to their curatorial staffs. One problem: Their staffs get poached by other museums.

At the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia), only two out of 15 current curators identify as people of color. The museum just lost its photography/new media curator, Yasufumi Nakamori, who is a native of Japan.

And Walker Art Center lost curator-at-large Adrienne Edwards this spring to New York Citys Whitney Museum of American Art. At present, five of the Walkers 11-person curatorial staff identify as people of color.

The Walker offers a paid curatorial fellowship for diversity in the arts, which has been in place since the 1990s. And Mia has an initiative to hire interns of color, a program that leverages funds from the Ford and Walton Family foundations. The museum also has a new diversity and inclusion manager to oversee those efforts.

In order for Mia to stay relevant and meaningful to our audience, its important our employees are representative of the changing demographics of the Twin Cities, said Mias director, Kaywin Feldman. While our institution-wide employee demographics reflect this, we realize there is always room for improvement. Mia is one of the first museums to create a diversity and inclusion manager role to directly address this.

Nakamori, who left Mia to take a senior curatorial position in London, acknowledged that while the museum has made advances, Mia has a long way to go ... there should be more senior curators who are curators of color.

612-673-4438 @AliciaEler

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