Read the MCA’s Statement on Opening
This month, we are thrilled to open our major exhibition, The Long Dream, created collaboratively with every member of the MCA staff—from our Artistic Division team working together to select the participating artists, to each staff member layering in their expertise to make this exhibition possible despite pandemic-related challenges and an accelerated timeline of only five months. At a pivotal time for the world and for Chicago, our team took on this prodigious endeavor for one important reason: to elevate and celebrate Chicago artists and the artistic community of our great city.
We need to support, exhibit, and take direction from our artists now more than ever. Their work is crucial in times like these, illuminating who we are, giving shape to what we are experiencing, broadening our perspectives and guiding us in our path to meet this moment.
I believe the artists in The Long Dream and the MCA share a mutual goal for our museum: that of an equitable and caring institution in a more equitable and caring Chicago. Our artists should hold us to that standard, and I am grateful to every artist that demands that the MCA be a living example of equity. We want nothing less than that for ourselves and for every community that we are a part of.
I recognize that words are simple and actions are harder and I have included below an updated addendum of actions we have taken with the specific intention of caring for our staff. We share this with you publicly, and acknowledge that there is still more work to be done.
As our actions reflect, today the MCA is on a path towards equity that is still evolving. Truthfully, we are as much a work in progress as the historical moment we are living through. We are an increasingly diverse organization on its way to being an intentionally equitable one. Completing the journey is an urgent and iterative process, one that demands listening, learning, correcting, and taking actions that build on each other in real time. It is based on a willingness to relentlessly challenge our own assumptions, the certain knowledge that we alone do not possess all the answers, and the recognition that finding them requires limitless collaboration and relentless self-reflection. This is continuous, difficult, and necessary work.
Internally we are committed to bridging communication gaps and building a culture that is connected at every level. We are implementing practices that support and encourage direct and candid dialogue and which honor individual voices, thoughts, and ideas. Externally, we have the same commitment to open communication with artists too. For The Long Dream, Chief Curator Michael Darling personally spoke with nearly every one of the more than 70 artists involved in the show, initiating conversations as shared opportunities to listen, learn, and offer clarification.
We appreciate the conversations that continue to take place among our staff and with our community to strengthen the urgency of our internal work towards being a more responsive, equitable, and sustainable organization.
It continues to be a demanding world and will remain so for some time. But a museum exists to support, inspire, and reflect its community. It is the MCA's role and our responsibility to meet that challenge by being open.
We are open, physically, for a wide and diverse community to take solace and inspiration from the power of extraordinary art.
We are open to share, discuss, and explore new possibilities with our extraordinary staff and artist community.
And we are open to continuing to change as we listen, learn, and act together.
All my best,
- Prioritized and ongoing communications with staff are taking place via all staff meetings, small-scale conversations moderated by a racial healing practitioner, open office hours with all leaders, and a program called “Conversations in the Commons” that provides space for staff to speak openly about issues facing the museum world today
- Created full-time Visitor Experience staff positions to provide greater benefits and support to frontline staff
- Expanded sick pay for part-time employees
- Committed to addressing our compensation practices through the lenses of equity and sustainability
- Created a board of trustee task force focused on inclusion, diversity, equity, and access
- Created an anti-racism task force of elected staff members representing every department who are currently determining mission and priorities
- Ongoing staff training via Enrich Chicago’s anti-racism workshops.
- Working through the Strategic Plan we began in 2019, our staff continues to reconsider the MCA’s entire exhibition, performance, program, and collection plans through the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion to help redefine our field and inspire our audiences
- Our Commons Online now supports and elevates BIPOC platforms and organizations
- Our reopening task force meets weekly to ensure the MCA meets and exceeds CDC and city guidelines to ensure the health and safety of staff and public