[COLLECTIVE LIBERATION] Disrupt, Dismantle, Manifest (June 2 – 4, 2021)

#CollectiveLiberation is an opportunity for EVERYONE to shape and wholly transform the future of museums

Registration is now open

Image description: blue background with star border; [collective liberation] disrupt, dismantle, manifest, June 2nd - 4th, 2021; logos for Museums and Race, Visitors of Color, Museum Workers Speak, MASSAction, The Incluseum, Museums Are Not Neutral, Death to Museums, and The Empathetic Museum.

About this event

Registration is now open for [Collective Liberation]: Disrupt, Dismantle, Manifest!

We are very excited for our lineup this year. By registering for the convening, you will have access to all of the sessions. Attendees will receive an email with session links at the start of each day.

Registration is free with an optional Pay What You Can. Payments will go toward paying speakers and the fund for Museum Workers Speak.

Please note:

  • Sessions will be recorded and uploaded to Museums & Race’s YouTube channel.
  • ASL interpretation will be provided.
  • Registration caps at 500.

For any questions regarding registration, please contact museumequitycoalition@gmail.com

Antiracist Convening Schedule


11 am EDT / 8 am PDT

Coffee Chat + Check-in

Join Coalition members for pre-session conversations.
Chat with fellow convening attendees and check-in on what is top of mind for you.

12 Noon EDT / 9 am PDT

The Narcissistic Abuse of Cultural Institutions

Presenters: Andrea Montiel de Schuman and Dr. Kelli Morgan

This discussion between Andrea Montiel and Dr. Kelli Morgan will help identify narcissistic abusive patterns in the museum field, acknowledging the severe psychological consequences of being exposed to such environments for long periods of time. Recognizing that the museum field will not change tomorrow, we will share recommended ways to manage, set boundaries and overcome trauma. It’s going to continue to take time, and the process will continue to be painful.

In the past year, since resigning, Dr Kelli Morgan and I faced extreme emotions of grief, urgency for change. We have experienced the powerful ways in which institutions retaliate and seek to hoard as much power for as long as they can, knowing that their time is up. We have spent time healing and rethinking approaches to face the crisis in the field.

We fully believe that the time is up for those who have enabled and fostered abusive workplaces: this is why they are panicking. But the change/transition will take more than removing directors: it’s going to take dismantling enablers and complex systems & reorganizing power dynamics in meaningful ways. We believe that museum workers need to find ways to heal from trauma in the process, especially since institutions have powerful resources at hand.

2 pm EDT / 11 am PDT

Bigger Than the Internet: Museums and the Digital Colonization of the Web

Presenter: Adriel Luis

Museums increasingly express interest in equity, social justice, and even decolonization, in large part due to their growing investment in online spaces where such topics have risen to the top of public consciousness. This investment has also led to heightened dependence on internet and social media platforms which center profit and gain, often through data mining, invasive advertisements, misinformation, and other behavior which run counter to principles of free and open society, and mutual flourishing. These practices mirror the resource extraction by empire-building campaigns such as the Wilkes Expedition, which helped establish the U.S.’ earliest museums.

This session investigates the relationship between museums and exploitive data collection practices, from their colonial histories to their uncertain futures. In order for museums to truly be places for people of color, they must not simply “include” us, but must dismantle their traditions and frameworks that center Western knowledge and perpetually disenfranchise our belief systems.If museums are committed to their “inclusive” engagement of racialized, Disabled, and queer people on social media, they cannot ignore the disproportionate hostilities and exploitations that threaten these populations online. Otherwise, it is an incomplete, ill-informed vision of social justice.

4 pm EDT / 1 pm PDT

Local Contexts: Grounding Indigenous Rights  

Presenters: Jane Anderson, Janette Hamilton-Pearce, Maui Hudson, Felicia Garcia, Corrie Roe

Every Indigenous community has cultural and biological collections within archives, libraries, and museums that they do not own, do not control, and cannot govern circulation over. Significant information about these collections, including  names and proper provenance information is absent. Increasing digitization across the cultural heritage sector continues to disregard Indigenous rights. This affects cultural memory, the accuracy of historical narratives, and present day Indigenous culture, health, and well-being. It is a critical matter for Indigenous knowledge and data sovereignty. 

Local Contexts recognizes the sovereignty that Indigenous communities have over knowledge and data that comes from lands, territories, and waters. Local Contexts is developing a model that addresses the problem of public domain materials and third party owned Indigenous content divorced from local communities. Local Contexts offers a system of digital labelling to intervene in the structural colonial legacy of Indigenous erasure.  We will introduce the Local Contexts (localcontexts.org) initiative, including the Local Contexts Hub. This Hub is planned for launch in July. The Hub is a portal that will allow communities to adapt the Labels and researchers and institutions to generate Notices.

6 pm EDT / 3 pm PDT

Let’s Get Real: Skill Building Break Outs

Join us for a set of concurrent sessions to sharpen your antiracism skill building around Accountability Matrixes with members of the MASS Action Accountability Workgroup, Land Acknowledgements with Jaclyn Roessel, and Curating Disability with Camille Bethune-Brown. 

Creating an Accountability Matrix | Sara Phalen, Gretchen Jennings, Juline Chevalier

Curating Disability  |  Camille Bethune-Brown 

Land Acknowledgments as Catalysts for Action  |  Jaclyn Roessel 


11 am EDT / 8 am PDT

Coffee Chat + Check-in

Join Coalition members for pre-session conversations. Chat with fellow convening attendees and check-in on what is top of mind for you.

12 Noon EDT / 9 am PDT

Limitations on traditional funding models

Presenters: Camille-Mary Sharp 

This moderated conversation addresses the limitations that traditional funding models (specifically: corporate sponsorship and philanthropy, but also board governance) impose on our push for radical change in museums.  In particular, this session will examine the case of climate change education and initiatives in museums, troubling the recent push for climate-oriented philanthropy and the rise of corporate-funded exhibitions that focus (problematically) on individual responsibility for the climate crisis. The goal of this session will be for participants to leave encouraged to think “beyond divestment,” since mining-intensive “green energy” industries have shown to replicate the oppressive systems of oil and gas, and re-imagine the future of the field’s funding and leadership structures.

2 pm EDT / 11 am PDT

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is – A Critical Look at Co-Creation and Collaboration Beyond the Buzzwords 

Presenters: David Valentine, Choua Her, Robby Callahan Schreiber 

When it comes to moving the needle on social justice in the field, museums typically involve Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities as a surface level way to underscore their own progress while changing very little about how they operate. This tendency to center the museum, rather than improving their equity standing, (re)creates patterns of performative and self-serving behaviors that actively harm communities and damage relationships in longstanding ways. We see this often when BIPOC-led or centered orgs and individuals are brought into projects that are already in motion, for what might arguably be called “token inclusion,” and yet are still not given a seat at the table when it comes to decision-making throughout the process. These projects are also often funded externally which points to a lack of institutional investment in the work itself. In other words, it seems that these projects only exist when the cost can be shuffled onto someone else and the work stops when the money stops.

In this session, we explore the do’s and don’ts of authentic community engagement. Moving beyond a list of things to check off and mark as done, and informed by reflections about our NSF-funded RAPID: Advancing Community Conversations that Intersect STEM and Racial Justice project, we will share a resource we’ve drafted for making critical decisions around collaboration and co-creation with community members. This resource will highlight:

  • How to take an asset-based approach to working WITH community members with whom museums have under-invested our resources.
  • How to identify and subvert tactics in your engagement strategy that uphold or reinforce inequities in power sharing.
  • How to integrate new tactics that bolster mutual beneficiality, encourage transparency, strip away oppressive norms, and empower community members.

4 pm EDT / 1 pm PDT

Creative reckoning: The fall and rise of a BIPOC Creative

Presenters: Britt Oates, Heather Hope Kuruvilla, Kathren Lee, Katie Sullivan, Marlena Matuta, Sarah Olivo

We meet, we have fun, and we get shit done. But not before stumbling through some of it first. This is an open, blunt, and honest discussion of how Agate Creative came together as strangers to refute white supremacy culture in our places of work and reimagine and revolutionize the traditional and oppressive museum structure through transformational experiences, conversations starters, resource share, and beyond. On our path, we realized many of the patterns and practices we were attempting to address within museums had carried over into our own space. We were repeating the “way things had always been done” without question, self-reflection, push-back, or growth. Together, we came to see the toxicity we were attempting to address was also internalized. In this discussion, we will explore how we recognized, named, and worked to dismantle the toxic “norms” within ourselves and our work histories to collectively form a stronger Creative.

6 pm EDT / 3 pm PDT

Art to Action: Capacity-Building Break Outs

Join us for a set of concurrent sessions to investigate the powerful role of art and design in dismantling systems of oppression within the museum and cultural fields.

Art and Inner Shifts | Sabrina Mooroogen 

Dismantling through Design Justice  |  Rina Alfonso, Isabella Bruno

Confinements of Color in the White Cube | Jaime Sunwoo

FRIDAY, JUNE 4, 2021

11 am EDT / 8 am PDT

Coffee Chat + Check-in

Join Coalition members for pre-session conversations. Chat with fellow convening attendees and check-in on what is top of mind for you.

12 Noon EDT / 9 am PDT

Conservation alternatives: A structured discussion about what else it could mean to invest in material heritage

Presenter: Ayesha Fuentes

This open, moderated conversation invites conservators, arts practitioners and museum workers to imagine how the field of conservation can be part of the creative reconstruction and decentralization of cultural institutions. This session examines how conservation’s collective identity, methods, standards and vocabularies can and should be destabilized in order to shift intellectual and technical agency away from entrenched eurocentric, exclusionary practices and narratives. In addition to discussing strategies for community engagement and pathways to repatriation, this conversation aims to examine the obsolescence of conservation as an instrument of museological, economic or political authority, and to cultivate a broader arena for conservation training and practice that includes a diversity of material skills and knowledge, and which prioritizes the accessibility of cultural heritage rather than its material integrity.

2 pm EDT / 11 am PDT

Why cultural institutions should advocate for the defunding of local police departments

Presenters: nikhil trivedi, Porchia Moore, Rose Kinsey

In cities big and small, huge amounts of local budgets go to policing. Local advocates are being clear about what alternatives could be if they defunded police, including ending hunger, homelessness, and funding education and healthcare for all. Could arts and culture be part of where this money could go, too?

The pandemic has caused some institutions to shut down for good. Those left standing continue the perpetual cycle of grant writing and membership driving just to stay afloat. Would we each need to be in this rat race fighting over the same resources if there were better mechanisms to fund us? Could ending policing at all levels of government from neighborhood watches to the federal military achieve this? 

Join us for a discussion on dreaming about a world without police, and why museums and cultural institutions should join the fight.

4 pm EDT / 1 pm PDT

Museum Unions – Organizing Workshop

Presenters: Amanda Tobin, Maro Elliott, Whitney Stanley, Michaela Flint

Join members of MASS MoCA’s organizing committee and the Portland Museum of Art to learn strategies and information about the unionization process. We will review a timeline, eligibility, strategies, and lessons learned. The conversation will identify how organized worker power can shift traditional priorities and experiences to build a stronger, more authentic museum field.

The recent wave of museum unionization has the potential to fundamentally change the landscape of museum work. Unions can hold their institutions accountable to the promises of racial equity, and ensure they go beyond optical allyship to enact actual policy changes, from hiring protocols to harassment procedures and more. Unions also require transparent communication between leadership and staff. Earlier staff-driven attempts to promote DEAI have proven to be easily dismissed by leadership. Unions provide the legal standing for workers to gain the power needed to effect change.

6 pm EDT / 3 pm PDT


Our goal is collective liberation. Join us for a convening wrap-up and tactical conversation about what comes next. How will we hold one another and the field accountable for the changes we want and need to see? Let’s work together to disrupt, dismantle, and manifest this journey towards collective liberation.

Image description: blue background with starred border; Collective Liberation Programming Schedule; logos for Museums and Race, Visitors of Color, Museum Workers Speak, MASSAction, The Incluseum, Museums Are Not Neutral, Death to Museums, and The Empathetic Museum.

WHO WE ARE: This Coalition represents the change-making movements Museums and Race, MASS Action, Museum Workers Speak, The Incluseum, Museums Are Not Neutral, Empathetic Museum, Visitors of Color, and Death to Museums. Collectively, we believe there is inherent inequity in the existing systems alive in our institutions, and that we must address this foundationally through the lens of racial justice and anti-white supremacy. We are committed to effecting real, substantive, and transformative change in the museum field and seeing the manifestations of this work happen in our lifetime.

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