How useful is a closed museum to the Black Lives Matter movement?

From New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, closed since mid-March:

There is a link to a letter from two rich white guys:

We must come together as a Met community to grieve and to reflect on how we, as individuals, and as a museum, can do more to support social justice efforts in this country. We are thinking through various ways we can create opportunities for staff to have these conversations remotely, and we will share more details on what’s next in the coming days.

What’s the value of this offer to “come together” if the museum is closed? Those passionate about social justice can’t even go in to see all of the prominently featured art by dead white European males.

The comments on the site are interesting. Americans love empty words, it seems:

Thank you for Standing in Solidarity. What a fabulous idea.

Thank you for your commitment to build from these defining lessons born from our torn national fabric and lack of patriotic and empathetic leadership.

Thank you for this important public statement.

At a time when we have so little to be proud of, your statement makes me proud to be a patron and volunteer at the MET.

So important that the arts become a vocal part of our National crisis. Thank you for this statement.

As an world reknowned institution, it is unprecedented that you would reach out to the disenfranchized people of New York City as you have done

Thank you for your leadership in broadcasting this important message of acknowledgement of the absolute horror of our own uniformed police …

Thank you for making your views clear . It is wonderful for a cultural institution to be so explicit over it’s support for this matter.

Tony Mcdade, Nina Pop, Muhlasia Booker, and so many more. Black Trans Lives Matter.

In other words, even if you haven’t gone to work for more than three months, you can still be a hero if you tell your web contractors over in India to put a black image on your home page!

Uh oh, a couple of people want to see something beyond an update to the HTML on the index page:

While the museum is closed, would you consider hanging banners on the facade of the MET that are created by black artists, support the Black Lives Matter movement, and/or honor George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, or Breonna Taylor?

Will you be donating to The Black Lives Matter movement or offering donations of any kind to any programs?

A Deplorable comment:

Does your plan include the other oppressed groups, or will it be at their expense?

Age discrimination

(He/she/ze/they forgot about half of the victims in “LGBTQIA+”!)

Separately, when do art museums reopen in the plague lands? A lot of Texas museums are reopened (e.g., Kimball), but there does not seem to be any plan for Boston and New York. Why can’t they add a $50 plague fee to each entrance, do security monitoring remotely with cameras, and call it good? The Met is 2 million square feet. If there are 500 people in the museum, are they really more likely to spread the virus to each other than if these same people were walking around on Manhattan sidewalks, going into grocery and liquor stores, meeting on Tinder, etc.?

New York does not have a monopoly on virtue. Here’s the home page of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, now in Month 4 of its closure:

The “Give Today” link is to a Black Lives Matter organization? It is certainly noble of the institution for rich white people to use their platform to raise money for Bostonians of Color! Oh wait… clicking “Give Today” leads to an appeal to give money to the Museum of Fine Arts, not to Black Lives Matter:

What does the rich white Canadian who runs the museum have to say about the experience of poor black Americans:

It is past time to recognize that the usual commitments to change are not enough, and that we have an obligation to make a difference. Only demonstrable actions will evidence a commitment. We acknowledge that the MFA, like many art and cultural organizations across America, has work to do to become the institution to which we aspire. This is the time for us to determine: “How will the MFA take the lead on bridging and healing the divides that exist among us?”

Past commitments didn’t work. What’s the solution? Additional commitments:

We commit to action, to listen, to do, to speak, to gather, to insist.


One thought on “How useful is a closed museum to the Black Lives Matter movement?

  1. > He/she/ze/they forgot about half of the victims in “LGBTQIA+”!

    They didn’t. Black Trans Lives Matter is protesting today from Franklin Park to Nubian Square. If you start at the MFA (which is going to be completely restructured), go soutwest past the Wentworth Institute of Technology (MIT with an upside-down “M”?), cross over Columbus Avenue (which will have to be renamed) onto Malcolm X Blvd., go west past the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, stop at the Social Security Administration building to pick up your disability check, then make a right on Washington St. (which will have to be renamed), go past the Boston Police District 2 Roxbury HQ (which will have to be defunded) and you’re almost there!

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