June 11, 2020
Over the last three months, we have often heard the phrase “these are unprecedented times.” The past two weeks have demonstrated that, while perhaps unprecedented, this is a moment that has been long in coming. The history of racism in this country demands action from us, both as individuals and as a museum.
The Walters Art Museum stands against systemic racism and racial injustice. We stand with the thousands of Baltimore citizens, and those across the country and world, who are peacefully demonstrating for justice and equality. We stand in support of our Black colleagues and acknowledge that they suffer more deeply–and have long done so–due to racism, bias, and inequity in our society. We stand together and mourn the losses of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and before them, countless others, including Baltimore’s own Freddie Gray. Black history matters. Black culture matters. Black lives matter.
In our strategic plan, the Board and staff made a commitment to a new vision for the Walters—to be a force for transformation in the Baltimore region. While we have made progress, we must do more. We affirm the following commitments:
To achieve our Visitor Promise and create a welcoming environment for our community, we must continue to diversify our staff, management, and Board and support an inclusive, anti-racist work culture.
To live our value that “art is conversation,” we must spend more time listening.
To strengthen our financial sustainability and accountability, we must continue to invest our endowment in minority and women-owned firms and to support local minority-owned businesses.
To inspire change in the museum field, we must pursue and share the most challenging histories of our origins as an institution and the art we steward.
To bring people together, we must recognize that museums have long been agents of colonialism, exclusion, and inequality.
We believe in the fundamental role art and history play in shaping a better future. This moment challenges us to listen, learn, and take action to build a better and more just future for Baltimore and the region.
The work that we must do is not possible without your partnership. We commit to continue this work with you—and with urgency and courage.
Julia Marciari-Alexander, PhD
Andrea B. & John H. Laporte Director