A Group of Powerful Black Museum Trustees Are Forming an Alliance to Push for Big Changes in US Institutions

The Black Trustee Alliance for Art Museums met for the first time last month.

Pamela Joyner. Photo: Drew Altizer.

In an effort to diversify the makeup of museum administrations and boards, a group of influential Black museum trustees has come together to form a new advocacy group.

The Black Trustee Alliance for Art Museums, as the group is called, aims to promote the work of Black artists, curators, and directors countrywide—and to call on institutions to take note. Its work is funded by the Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

Still in its infant stages, the alliance is in the process of connecting with potential members across the country. Its steering committee, comprised of 12 trustees, met over Zoom for the first time in July.

What came about was an “early, open conversation,” says committee co-chairwoman Victoria Rogers, who serves on the boards of the Brooklyn Museum and Creative Time.

“Out of that conversation came a real sense that, if we continue to talk and continue to work together, we can begin to make a strategic plan to impact change in cultural institutions,” Rogers says. “Now we’re in the stages of sorting out how we can actually achieve [our goals]. That will be the content of our next meeting.”

Other members of the steering committee including Pamela J. Joyner, a trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago, Getty Trust, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Tate Americas Foundation; Gaby Sulzberger, a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and New York mayoral candidate Raymond J. McGuire, a trustee of the Whitney Museum and the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Also invited to the meeting was Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, and Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, who attended as guests, according to the New York Times.

The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for this week. 

“What I hope for the group is that we’re able to use this moment that we’re in to really push forward and take a big step to create more inclusive and equitable institutions,” Rogers says. “It’s essential that museums begin to reflect the artistic and cultural diversity of this nation.”

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