March 2021 Update: Artist Identity Project

In order to hold ourselves accountable in our journey toward becoming a more inclusive museum, and to be transparent about the content of our acquisitions and exhibitions program, SFMOMA has launched an artist identity project.

Our dashboard presents a snapshot of identity information associated with artists whose work we have collected and/or exhibited in any given fiscal year (SFMOMA runs on a July 1–June 30 fiscal year). Our second annual dashboard appears below.

The initial phase of this work, spearheaded by our chief of staff, and the collections and curatorial teams, has surfaced many complicated issues and questions for which we do not yet have answers.

What kind of data should we be collecting? Do the categories in our current dashboard reflect preferred terms? Are they sufficiently nuanced? How do we best address fluid and fast-changing terminology? How do we best capture and protect potentially sensitive information? How do we reflect data associated with artists who are unable to speak for themselves — for example, artists who are no longer living?

SFMOMA is at the beginning of this work. We recognize the importance of self-reported data and are developing a questionnaire to give artists the opportunity to express individual preferences going forward, or to opt-out. We are also in dialogue with peer institutions throughout the United States grappling with the same issues, in order to learn from each other. We expect to be able to provide quarterly updates on our progress.

It is our honor to work with artists. Being respectful of their individual choices is fundamental to our relationships, both personally and institutionally.