As 2020 concludes, SFMOMA must reflect on a year that was challenging in ways we could never have imagined, while also acknowledging the learning, change, and growth that this year forced the museum to confront and embrace.
With 2021 on the horizon, SFMOMA is thoughtfully building a foundation and process for DEI work that is meaningful and sustainable. These efforts build on those initiated by SFMOMA’s Strategic Plan set forth in 2018. They were further catalyzed by a national reckoning of the systemic racism in this country that resurged in the spring and summer of 2020, a pandemic disproportionately affecting people of color, and an objectionable act of censorship on SFMOMA’s Instagram in spring 2020 that magnified the need for a paradigm shift at the museum.
The current multifaceted DEI journey is being led by a Core Team of trustees and staff from across the organization that was formed in summer of 2020, and Project Teams with specific areas of focus who will identify actionable steps the museum will take. Intentionally focusing on the process alongside the product, the Teams recognize that this work involves real people and emotions, both of which are complex, and that it takes time to ensure everyone at every level of the museum is brought along on the journey, equipped with the tools necessary to not only champion the work but live it.
SFMOMA will begin the new year with a new series of DEI discussions, educational workshops, and feedback sessions for all staff and board members as the museum finalizes its foundational DEI Statement of Intention from which future DEI work will grow. Newly formed Project Teams will begin work in earnest on their area of focus with regular input from all staff. Through this inclusive and intentional process, the museum projects it will finalize a comprehensive DEI Strategic Plan by spring 2021. In the meantime, SFMOMA remains dedicated to sharing regular progress updates at sfmoma.org/dei-actions, and continues to welcome your thoughts and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2018, SFMOMA launched this 10-week paid summer program for undergraduate and graduate students, funded by Bank of America.
Kenyatta Parker, director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging started September 9, 2020.
Annie Jizmagian, director of Employee Experience and Internal Communication started September 14, 2020.
In summer 2020 the DEI Core Team was formed of select trustees and staff from across the museum. This group is responsible for designing, coordinating, and organizing racial equity plans and activities up, down, and across the museum with support from DEI consultants Leverage to Lead.
DEI Project Teams were finalized in November 2020 and comprise a selection of staff from across the organization, led by a Core Team staff member and Trustee. Project Teams will focus on creating equity action plans for specific areas of focus at the museum.
During summer 2020, we worked with an external employee relations legal team to review past employee complaints. We have closed all pending matters and are implementing several corrective measures to help prevent and promptly resolve staff concerns.
These measures include a workplace conduct investigations policy and resolution process, as well as expanded confidential reporting options, and in-depth training for supervisors and staff. We will continue to take all steps necessary to ensure a safe, compliant, and inclusive workplace for our staff.
Rodimiro “Ro” Coronado, director of Human Resources and People Operations, was hired in September 2020. He brings over 12 years of labor and employee relations expertise and is leading these efforts.
Since July 2020, staff completed five training sessions facilitated by Dr. Darlene Hall:
All staff completed a new Unconscious Bias Training in November 2020.
Additional training is likely to be developed with DEI Project Team deliverables.
The first pilot for the Exhibition Development Process rolled out in October 2020. We incorporated more voices (expanded the group to include all senior staff and project/content producers, a new values rubric, and staff opportunities to pitch project ideas as part of the new workflow). The process followed with robust analysis from Exhibitions & Program Management to determine project scope and budget size.
We have a lot to learn from the first round of meetings, and we are continuing to evolve. A second set of meetings took place in November 2020, with updates to the rubric and other expanded areas.
We plan to hold Exhibition Development meetings five times a year for exhibitions that require multiple stakeholders to contribute to sizable projects. We also plan to include the DEI Core team in these meetings starting February 2021 to get their thoughts and ideas incorporated into the process.
Our two summer interns in the Department of Painting and Sculpture concluded their remote internships and made final presentations on August 27, 2020.
The team is in conversations to continue this partnership in a similar capacity in 2021.
All staff restrooms (multi- and single occupancy) on levels LL, 8, 9, and 10, and Single and Family restrooms in public spaces on museum levels 1, 2, 3, and 4 have been made All Gender using new signage (no physical retrofits).
Additional restrooms modifications are being explored for a possible Phase 3.
Opportunities will be provided to staff in early 2021 to participate in Talent/HR training topics around Talent Acquisition and Manager Enablement. Further programmatic developments are being evaluated to create pathways for our employees.
Additional training and professional development opportunities are being brainstormed with DEI Project Team deliverables.
Data for last fiscal year’s dashboard, including staff, trustee, and artist racial and gender breakdown, was shared at the November 2020 public board meeting. This information is planned to be posted by early 2021 on SFMOMA’s intranet and website.
The Collections and Curatorial departments have also been in conversation about the reasons for, the required thoughtfulness of, and the tacit challenges of placing data about artist identities in a collections management system (CMS). While continuing to value the importance of conversation, the Collections team is now moving into a project phase, with the intention of making progress on bringing thoughtful, carefully expressed data about artist backgrounds into our CMS. On a parallel track, colleagues in Curatorial are developing a fresh process for connecting with living artists about biographical information, as well as information about their works. The project is conceived as having three parallel tracks,
Track A – Collections: research, review, express data related to deceased artists
Track B – Collections: research, review, express placeholder data related to living artists (replaced subsequently by self-reported data)
Track C – Curatorial: ask living artists directly about their identities
Moving from being solely in conversation about artist identities to beginning a scoped project is driven by the call for transparency with the museum’s art collection and the museum’s commitment to making the art collection diverse.
The Curatorial staff is continuing the work of integrating underrepresented artists into our collection displays, with a particular emphasis on amplifying Black voices. Newly installed works include historic examples by Black American artists from the recent gift from Pamela Joyner and Fred Giuffrida to SFMOMA, including paintings by Jordan Casteel, Beauford Delaney, and Hugie Lee-Smith (Floor 2); a monumental painting by Ed Clark now on extended loan to the museum (Floor 4); and a painting by Ellen Banks (Floor 5).
The museum launched a search for new curatorial staff member(s) in fall 2020.