The Fleming Museum of Art at sunset

The Fleming Museum of Art at sunset

Land Acknowledgment:

The Fleming Museum is situated on the land that has served as a site of meeting and exchange among Indigenous Peoples for thousands of years and is the home of the Western Abenaki People. The Museum’s collection holds cultural belongings and artworks of other Indigenous people from throughout the world. We resolve to build mutual, substantive relationships with Indigenous peoples as the foundation of our work going forward, so that we can center their knowledge and expertise in caring for and reinterpreting these collections. This acknowledgement is our affirmation of our responsibility as an institution—within a larger institution—to address past inequities and erasures of Indigenous sovereignty and heritage in Vermont and globally.

 

Institutional TransformationA Living Document of the Fleming’s Reckonings and Transformations:

Over the past nine months, the staff at the Fleming Museum have been reckoning with how to become an anti-racist museum that’s more responsive, relevant, and inclusive. We commit to enacting changes within the Museum, to affirm in action that Black Lives Matter and that the lives of Indigenous people and people of color matter. We recognize the long overdue and hard work that we need to undertake—personally and organizationally as a predominantly white staff—to address the foundations of white supremacy in the Fleming Museum. Museums across the world are founded in colonialist and settler colonialist values of extracting objects from their cultures. Those objects are presented with minimal context in a paternalistic framework that imagines itself to be beneficent or neutral. The ongoing work of redress and restitution is challenging and necessary for the Fleming and other museums to reorient their missions and values. The following statement is a living document of values that the Fleming Museum staff have developed.

We are at the beginning of our endeavors to reimagine our place in the University and the wider community. The foundations of this work lie in amplifying the perspectives of Black, Indigenous, and people of color who have been excluded—implicitly and explicitly—from the Museum. The Fleming Museum aspires to become a space for listening to our audiences and building avenues of trust with other organizations that are already doing this work. In order to build that trust, we will follow through on feedback with honest, reflective answers about past failures and ways we are committing ourselves to listening to the audiences we serve. That is why we have made feedback so central to this statement and our larger efforts as we move forward.

 

We are guided by these values:

Building trust through forming sustained, mutual relationships with the communities we serve on and off-campus, centered in listening, learning, and taking action based on their feedback.

Build Trust
  • Build trust with Black, Indigenous, people of color, and others who have felt excluded in both implicit and explicit ways
  • Undertake listening sessions with campus and community members to hear their perspectives on the Museum and what they imagine it could become
  • Use surveys, class feedback, informal conversations, and other means to gather feedback in a variety of ways
  • Commit to hiring BIPOC staff, with awareness of what support is necessary at UVM as a predominantly white institution
  • Create an advisory council to involve students, staff, faculty, and community members in decision-making about exhibitions, programs, and changes to permanent collections galleries
  • Build coalitions with other groups on campus and in the community who are already undertaking this work
  • Assess current efforts and build relationships with BIPOC staff and faculty to recruit and retain a diverse staff of student employees

Transparency in documenting and reflecting on these efforts to become an anti-racist organization

Maintain Transparency
  • Acknowledge the Museum’s foundations in colonialism, imperialism, and white supremacy, whose legacies persist in the ways that whiteness is centered as the main organizing framework for exhibition and education, and in the explicit and implicit barriers that create discomfort for BIPOC visitors
  • Make the histories of our collections public and accessible—including instances where racism framed or violence enabled collecting, and instances where we have significant gaps in our records because of colonial and settler colonial collection practices.
  • Make public the work that the Museum is currently undertaking toward repatriation of objects, to spur further institutional examination of restitution
  • Hold ourselves accountable for the challenges we identify in our transformation, by valuing those moments that we make mistakes or realize blindspots as opportunities for learning and change
  • Build the Museum’s digital presence to use it to communicate with audiences about this work, with updates on what specific work we are undertaking and mechanisms for feedback

Become a responsive space, based on listening to and acting on the feedback we receive.

Become a responsive space
  • Use newly established acquisitions funds to prioritize acquiring artwork by contemporary BIPOC artists, with input from an advisory board of UVM students and others
  • Reimagine the use of galleries beyond the isolated global cultures layout, with feedback from visitors about the missing perspectives and limited frameworks that they see 
  • Reimagine the use of Museum spaces to facilitate group meeting spaces, lectures, recitals, and other events for BIPOC and community groups as affinity spaces
  • Move away from anonymous, “objective” voice in writing content for the Museum’s labels and other communications and instead experiment with writing styles, formats, multimedia, and design in exhibitions and learning resources

 

As we work towards becoming an anti-racist museum, gathering ideas and responding to them are central to our efforts.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

About

As we work towards becoming an anti-racist museum, gathering ideas and responding to them are central to our efforts.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Contact Us