A Museum in Progress: The Practice of White Accompliceship with African Exhibitions
A Museum in Progress: The Practice of White Accompliceship with African Exhibitions Melissa Crum, Ph.D. Mosaic Education Network ABSTRACT Beginning in the late 19th century, museums were places where the “exotic” was shared with White wealthy visitors. These objects were often from various non-European countries and acquired through illicit means. Still today, art museums display these same confiscated objects to a mostly White audience. But as we seek to ensure that complex stories of African cultural objects are shared, museum staff are asking tough questions that push administration to disrupt a paternalistic White supremacist framework that shapes what many museums exhibit and what audiences’ exhibitions cater to. The Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) in Columbus, Ohio is working to critique this framework as they shape their identity as a “Museum in Progress.” For CMA, to be a “Museum in Progress” is to embark on an iterative, research-centered, and inquisitive journey that intertwines personal convictions, biases, and the professional duty to operationalize self-reflection for themselves and visitors.