A Statement of Commitment to Racial and Cultural Equity
We at Tufts University Art Galleries (TUAG) believe that artists’ voices are essential to building a just world. In solidarity with those working toward racial justice, we are committed to prioritizing equitable work that gives a platform to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color), LGBTQIA+, and feminist voices. The systems and structures we occupy are built on white supremacy, and we acknowledge that we have perpetuated those inequities in a number of ways—some of which we recognize but many more that we do not. We are taking the first of many steps to analyze and change our operations and programming as we work toward confronting and dismantling white supremacy. We commit to moving ourselves toward anti-racist action and to continually learning and reflecting on what that means.
As a start to this process, the Art Galleries are making the following commitments to ourselves and our communities:
Staffing, Training, and Diversification
TUAG full-time and part-time staff is undergoing implicit bias training, both as individuals and as a group, to develop an open and anti-bias work culture. This must be augmented by installing BIPOC individuals in staff and leadership positions. When we can expand our staff again, we will hire BIPOC staff members and, in the meantime, we will work toward making our work culture sustainable and supportive for BIPOC staff members and freelancers. As an educational institution, we offer professional opportunities for students interested in museum work, and we commit to supporting our BIPOC students in order to facilitate pathways to inclusive and diverse museum leadership in the future
Student Advisory Board
We commit to sharing our platform and resources to support the formation of a Student Advisory Board to include students as active and valued voices within our exhibition and program planning process. A student representative is leading the conception of this new group, and its student members will shape the group’s mission, purpose, and semesterly goals in concert with TUAG staff.
We will engage with and learn from students in order to better meet their needs and wants through the exhibitions and programs the galleries offer. This means opening up our spaces to all students, being mindful that a gallery space is not always welcoming for our BIPOC students.
Public Art and Collections Audit
Beginning this summer, the Tufts Public Art Committee, spearheaded by the Art Galleries, will lead a university-wide audit of all of artworks on view in public spaces to ensure that representation on campus includes both BIPOC subjects and works by BIPOC artists. This effort is a key feature of Tufts President Anthony Monaco’s initial commitments toward making the university an anti-racist institution. “We need to think critically about whose history and images are displayed” on campus, as President Monaco noted.
Our audit, led by TUAG staff and students, will extend into the entirety of our Permanent Collection. We will focus on examining the content and history of these objects, assessing the values they represent, and using this data to rewrite our Collections Policies to prioritize the acquisition of artwork by BIPOC artists and makers.
Land Acknowledgement Learning
This summer, we are also launching a Land Acknowledgment Working Group in accordance with a statement on display in the Art Galleries’ spaces, which is itself a work in progress. This will begin a process of educating ourselves on settler colonialism, both historical and contemporary, and defining expansive ways to welcome and integrate Indigenous knowledges and communities into our structure and programs. This group will work in parallel with the efforts to create a university-wide land acknowledgment statement.
TUAG Racial and Cultural Equity Steering Committee
To ensure that our work stays consistent and remains an ongoing priority, the Art Galleries have developed a staff-led steering committee. This committee meets weekly to assess our own progress toward the action items outlined in this letter. The committee will also help coordinate our efforts with those of our parent institution, Tufts University, and our Boston-area community at large, working closely with our colleagues in the Tufts Action Group and TuftsforBlackLives.
Please reach out with any thoughts, comments, and criticisms. This is an ongoing process, and we want to hear from you as we rethink the role of and possibilities for the Tufts University Art Galleries together.
Tufts University Art Galleries Staff