July 2020 Update: Institutional Commitments

Our public communication channels have been quiet for the last several weeks as we, the staff of SFMOMA, engage in deep, sometimes difficult, and very necessary conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion, which underline that there is no single “we” at the museum. These conversations arose in response to an act of censorship on SFMOMA’s Instagram, longstanding inequities at the museum, and the recent layoffs of our friends and colleagues. All of this is underscored by a national reckoning of the fundamental systemic racism built into museums and this country’s origins, and a pandemic disproportionately affecting people of color, including workers at our museum now grappling with the dangers of returning to work.

We are in the process of setting specific, measurable, time-bound goals for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and will hold ourselves accountable by sharing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Plan by December of this year.

The following action items have been proposed by SFMOMA leadership to be completed by July 17. Some are already underway, but many are still being discussed by the entire staff, including:

  • Begin hiring for the following positions, currently reporting to Human Resources:
    • Director of Employee Experience and Internal Communication
    • Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging
  • Manage and investigate employee complaints of discrimination and harassment, and conduct a review of past employee complaints, investigatory practices, and case trends.
  • Begin anti-racist and implicit bias training for all staff, with refresher training every year. Task leadership and supervisors with creating employee workplans that allow staff to dedicate paid time each month toward DEI work and community volunteering.
  • Revise our exhibition review process through a DEI lens to make this process more transparent and inclusive throughout the museum.
  • This summer, we are participating in a paid intern partnership with the Art History and Curatorial Studies Collective, a consortium of three historically Black colleges and universities: Spelman College, Morehouse College, and Clark Atlanta University. We hope to continue this partnership in collaboration with our regular internship program.
  • Pilot gender-neutral restrooms in our staff spaces, to be extended throughout the entire museum when funding allows.

The following items are currently included in the proposed action plan, but require further discussion and staff conversations before effective, measurable strategies can be created:

  • Museums and cultural organizations are not (and should not be) neutral; we need to address what this means for our work at SFMOMA.
  • Develop a long-term programming partnership with one or more Black arts organizations in the Bay Area.
  • Provide a professional development program for prospective staff in all areas of museum operations.
  • Begin plans to publicly share a breakdown of the racial and gender diversity of our staff, trustees, and collection, as we strive to diversify the museum. Our Collections team estimates that it will take two full-time staff members six months to obtain this information as it pertains to all the artists in our collection. This information was not gathered in the past, and its compiling is complex, as best practices move toward self-identifying and self-reporting for living artists. We are currently determining how best to proceed with that research.
  • Continue to expand and diversify collections and works on view, with an increased focus on the sustained presence and prominence of works by underrepresented artists in the galleries and hire curatorial staff who can support these efforts.

Much of this work still needs to be done, and our leadership has pledged to the actions outlined above. We are committed to maintaining open and ongoing dialogue with you about our progress. All forms of feedback are welcome, and we commit to sharing it with our colleagues in the relevant departments. Please contact us at news@sfmoma.org.