Where is the Transformation and Justice Lounge at AAM 2022?

At our professional gatherings, the Museums & Race team has been committed to making sure there is a space for marginalized voices. While our beginnings in 2015 were humble, our intentions have remained the same. Our presence at annual meetings and conferences have served to disrupt conversations that often completely ignore or co-opt the labor of museum practitioners of color, especially those who claim additional marginalized identities. Our lounge at the AAM annual meeting was our flagship space for three years: a space for people to gather in solidarity, to have tough conversations, to rest, to find joy in meeting up with colleagues, and to lift up artists from local communities surrounding the conference location. Many of these things are counter to the pace and goals of professional meetings, which encourage high-intensity, often transitory interactions, and making as much profit as possible while ignoring the communities surrounding the conference location. Every year we have participated, we receive feedback on how valuable and important our lounge space has become to AAM Annual Meeting attendees. For many, AAM is the only conference they attend for professional development, and can only do so because their institutions sponsor their attendance.

Three people sitting in a group having a discussion. A medium-skinned person with shoulder length curly hair holds the microphone and looks to the left of the camera. A light-skinned person with short, light colored hair holding a drink looks towards the speaker and the camera and a   medium-dark skinned person with dark, straight, shoulder length hair in the foreground looks away from the camera at the speaker.
A Roundtable Discussion at the 2019 Museums & Race Transformation and Justice Lounge

The existence of our space at AAM has been contingent on a good faith partnership with AAM’s annual meeting planning team. This partnership ended abruptly and without notice in 2020.  M&R reached out to AAM staff to ensure everyone on their end was aware of our continued interest in and intention to produce a lounge space in 2020. The response we received was incredibly disheartening and disturbing. After a direct conversation with AAM staff, the M&R steering committee was informed that Museums & Race would not receive a dedicated space within the Expo Hall at the 2020 Annual Meeting. Instead, AAM selected Museum Hue as the sole partner for DEAI programming in the Expo Hall, and any activities M&R proposed would need to be cleared through them. No one at M&R had been informed or consulted prior to AAM moving forward with this plan, and no one within AAM appeared to have taken note of our past MOUs or lounge activities as evidence of our interest in continuing the partnership. We came away from this initial discussion with the sense that AAM views all of the equity initiatives and organizations like M&R as interchangeable.

AAM’s decision to exclude M&R from initial planning conversations put both groups in an extremely awkward position, leaving little room for M&R to negotiate or find solutions to ensure our presence beyond our session during the annual meeting. This is a common tactic, an age-old game of pitting marginalized groups against each other to fight over the meager resources, while the institutions themselves continue to uphold inequitable power dynamics. For DEAI work, this is especially true. However, we refuse to engage in scarcity-mindset behavior and we believe there is room for everyone in this work. We support the important and valuable work of Museum Hue as well as our colleagues in other equity coalitions working for change. 

A panorama of the lounge containing a multiple round table discussions crowded with people and a small, set off space set off by waist high barriers with two people inside. A bulletin board sits to the left covered with materials and with three people lookin at it. A table with materials sits on the right backdropped by a blue curtain with a small group having a conversation next to it. The Museum Expo can be seen in the background.
2018 Museums & Race Transformation and Justice Lounge

Over the last decade, the museum field has been fortunate to witness the growth of several independent equity coalitions. Each of them has provided frameworks and perspectives for challenging dominant institutional narratives, which have been the foundation of this industry. By assuming the work of our colleagues at Museum Hue is interchangeable with that of M&R, AAM has inadvertently perpetuated the institutional paternalism and white supremacy culture which it claims to challenge. How does AAM continue to square its vocal support of change and inclusion—plastered throughout its social media and website since 2020—without considering the ways in which it might be a part of the problem?

It has become clear to us and others within our equity sphere that AAM does not find it necessary to invite the widest range of perspectives to share space at the annual meeting. We want to highlight that this is not simply a one-off incident, but part of an ongoing trend in which M&R and other equity groups have been slowly silenced or pushed out. This trend ranges from severing existing good faith partnerships, to consistently scheduling DEAI sessions on the same day (and usually the last day) at conferences, to publishing the work of dominant voices on AAM’s platforms without critical examination of the source(s) of its content. 

For the foreseeable future, we are disheartened to say there will not be an M&R lounge space at the AAM Annual Meeting. We hope this changes in the future, as the AAM conference is a place from which many museums across the country draw their cues. We hope AAM—and the wider museum community—understands that the field of equity work is expansive and constantly evolving. Our professional organizations should be supporting museum practitioners in growing their capacity to grasp the nuances of these varied perspectives and organizations, not encouraging false, binary choices. We would encourage anyone who is a member of AAM and a supporter of M&R to express their concerns, or ask AAM staff about the exclusion of M&R.

The Museums and Race Lounge at [the 2018] AAM Conference made me feel at home. It quickly became my “HQ” during the conference. I’m grateful for the roundtable sessions at the Lounge and the opportunity to start an important dialogue with other museum professionals on mixed-race identity in the industry—it was a moving experience to have this conversation (a first at AAM, as some attendees told us) in a space challenging and confronting issues on race.

Andrea Neighbors, Asian Pacific American Center

Museums and Race Report Card [2021 Remix]

how will your museum measure up?

You spoke. We listened.

Museums & Race Report Card 3.0 is your tool for TRUTH, before attempting RECONCILIATION.

The report card still covers the same basic categories (Governance, Funding, Representation, Responsiveness, Resources, and Transparency). AND it now includes a rubric and action steps to help your organization build context for each grade, and then take action to improve and transform.

Take it. Use it. Share it.

And, as always, Cite it.

A screenshot from the May 24, 2021 session, Truth before Reconciliation: Taking the Requisite Steps toward Resilience, at the 2021 American Alliance of Museums Annual Conference. Presenters Alison Rossi, Karlisa Callwood, Timothy Rhue, Michelle Moon, Jaclyn Roessel, and Janeen Bryant explored how museums can reflect on and examine their own truths to authentically advance towards reconciliation.





Want to learn more about the Report Card?

Questions in the Face of Sedition

Many of you are grappling with how to address the events of January 6th, personally and professionally. We charge you with the following 5 questions for reflection and action:

1. What is a reasonable response to unreasonable behavior & speech?

There’s Nothing Virtuous About Finding Common Ground

2. What is a truth that wasn’t apparent to you before this week?

There[‘s] no relational healing without honesty, and no authentic reconciliation without repentance and truth. @BerniceKing

3. What would authentic repentance look like, and who should take on acts of repentance?

Does America Need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

4. What are we doing to recognize and address white supremacy in real-time–make visible the invisible & confront denial–within our own spheres of influence?

White Supremacy Culture

5. How can we counteract statements like “This is not America” or “This is not what American is about” that have inevitably followed the events of Jan. 6?

The Police’s Tepid Response To The Capitol Breach Wasn’t An Aberration

Denial Is the Heartbeat of America

We are past the need for tolerance–the old go along to get along mentality. Now what?

You’re Invited: Revisiting the Museums & Race Report Card

Join us September 9, 5:30 pm EST for an examination of leadership, change, and accountability. 

Have you heard of or used the Museums & Race Report Card?
We would love to hear how. 

Have questions you want to see addressed with leadership and colleagues?
We would love to dialog with you. 

Have other resources that are inspiring you at this moment? 
We would love to share them. 

Will you join us?  Register now.

imagine a [radical] future | JOIN US

Join us May 18-20, 2020 for our virtual
Museums & Race Transformation and Justice Lounge


#MuseumsandRace2020 is an opportunity for EVERYONE to stay engaged and shape a more equitable field for the future.


Please note: This is a pay/donate what you can conference. All donations support future Museums & Race initiatives. Each session is limited to 500 people. (updated 5/15)


MONDAY  |  MAY 18, 2020

12 Noon EST / 9AM PST

Performing Racial Identity in the Museum
Panelists: Dr. Dana Carlisle Kletchka and Dr. Joni Boyd Acuff

Using Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s 2018 “APESHIT” as an example, we suggest that autobiographical performative museum pedagogy serves as a critical “mining” of dominant curatorial narratives and as an intervention to counter the erasure of specific raced and gendered bodies. In this cypher, we discuss how this concept can inform museum exhibitions and programming.



Confronting a Legacy: Historic House Museums & White Supremacy
Moderator: Jana Shafagoj
Panelists: Kevin Grigsby, Simone Jacobs, Lori Kimball, and Peighton Yong

Since the 19th century, historic sites have collectively supported a version of American history focused on idolizing wealthy white males as heroes within an American mythology. Generations have relied on this false narrative to rationalize injustices large and small. Through acknowledging the role our sites have played in perpetuating this history and then committing to understanding and sharing a more truthful account, we can have a positive effect on our communities and the nation.



Feminist Methods to Center Margins, Catalyze Change and Foster Justice in Museums
Moderator: V. Gina Diaz 

This roundtable shares methods and results of a collaborative action research project aimed at challenging institutional standards, catalyzing change, and fostering justice in museum. Inspired by feminist and social movement maxims of studying up, moving margins to the center, and leader-full organizing, a collective of geographically dispersed artists, museum-workers, and academics identified key indicators that are resonant and revealing of institutional equity.


TUESDAY  |  MAY 19, 2020

12 Noon EST / 9AM PST

Decolonizing the Penn Museum’s Africa Collections
Moderator: Kate Quinn
Panelists: Dr. Tukufu Zuberi, Dr. Monique Scott, and Jessica Bicknell

Is it possible to dismantle the impact of the colonial narrative on exhibiting material culture in Western Museums? Creators of the new Africa Galleries at the Penn Museum discuss their approach, outcomes, and experiences in this interactive discussion.



Teaching Against Oppression and Exclusion in Museums: Mapping Black and Latinx Queer Stories to “Latinx History Now!” Youth Centered Resistance
Moderator: Therese Quinn

Sharing ideas from practice and the 2020 book, School: Questions About Museums, Culture, and Justice to Explore in Your Classroom, this presentation offers resources and examples for school and museum-based educators. While flawed, as storehouses of culture, presenters show that museums can be tapped to powerfully support social justice.



M&R Virtual Happy Hour and Poster Session- Imagine a [Radical] Future


You’re invited to join us for an hour of sharing and celebration, emphasis on  “RADICAL.” Bring your wildest ideas and favorite beverage for an hour of jamming and planning for a radical future.


WEDNESDAY  |  MAY 20, 2020

12 Noon EST / 9AM PST

Museum Workers’ Relief Fund: Museum Worker Solidarity in Action
Panelists: Anniessa Antar (@anniessafatima), Alyssa Greenberg (@GreenbergAlyssa), Hannah Heller (@museum_matters), Christian Ramirez, Paula Santos (@pablitasan), Kate Swisher (@kate_swisher)

It has become clear to us that when our institutions will not stand in solidarity with us, we must stand in solidarity with each other. This is why we have come together to organize a mutual aid relief fund for museum workers.



On the Walls, In the Halls: Diversity and Inclusion in Exhibitions and Staffing
Panelists: Nicole Bond, Mayra Palafox, and Jason Pallas

Join this participatory workshop as we delve into various dimensions of museum practice that impact our sense of inclusivity. We will draw from the experiences of Smart Museum educators to facilitate group conversation and short re-enactments, with a goal of collectively creating a tool for addressing instances of racial exclusion after the fact.



SEE YOU IN NOLA! Museums & Race at AAM 2019

This year WE ALL GET FREE! 

We can’t wait to see you at this year’s American Alliance of Museums conference in New Orleans. We’ve got so much planned and cannot wait to share it with you. If you need a break, a lift, a moment of inspiration, we’ve got you. (Expo Hall – Booth 1112)

Follow @museumsandrace and #museumsandrace to stay in the know!

Co-sponsored by our friends at MASS Action:

CoSponsor MASS Action logo - Elisabeth Callihan

All the Things:

WE ALL GET FREE – A RESTORATIVE RETREAT & WORKSHOPWorkshop ms logo change - brileyanne@mac.com.jpeg
Join Museums and Race, the Empathetic Museum, MASS Action and The National WWII Museum for We All Get Free, a restorative retreat for museum practitioners who seek to build network and meaningful connections with other professionals who share a deeper understanding of museum practice as it relates to social justice. This 4-hour workshop consists of five components: Self-Care, Restorative Justice, a Dialogic component, Wellness, and an Interactive Creative component.
Co-Sponsored by our friends at University of Florida Museum Studies Program


Cypher Feature POW NO BACKGROUND - Paul OrselliJoin round table hosts to discuss a range of contemporary issues around race, image, representation, access, and identity. Grab coffee or lunch and join us for some real talk. Monday 1-2pm, 3-4pm; Tuesday 10-11am, Noon-1pm, 1-2pm, 3:15-4:15pm, Wednesday, 8:30-9:30am (schedule details below)
Sponsored by our friends at POW!

quatrefoil small

Need a moment to catch your breath, close your eyes, and prepare for your next networking challenge? Check out our colorful relaxation pods and take a moment to clear your head and nourish your soul! Open during all Expo Hall hours.
Sponsored by our friends at Quatrefoil


We’ve partnered with local Level Artist Collective to engage loungers in exploring these mediums for personal expression and building community identity. Come get your hands dirty — we’ll provide the wet wipes.
Sponsored by our friends at Historical Research Associates 

WORK THAT NETWORK HAPPY HOUR & POETRY SLAMBalboa Park Cultural Partnership Logo (RGB) - Kristen Mihalko

Drop by Tuesday from 4:30-5:30 for a Networking Happy Hour.  Take a moment, connect with colleagues, and build a strong network of industry professional committed to challenging and re-imagining institutional policies and systems that perpetuate oppressions in museums.
Sponsored by our friends at Balboa Park Cultural partnership


Join us Monday 1-2 pm for a frank conversation about Museums and Race. As the museum industry comes under increased scrutiny about policies surrounding race, diversity, inclusion, and representation, we take this opportunity to reflect on events from the past year to celebrate excellence, challenge mistakes, and identify opportunities for continued growth and forward momentum. From exhibition, to programming, to governance, to funding, issues of equity will continue to challenge us personally and professionally. How will we meet these challenges and grow our capacity to serve our communities?


SATURDAY, MAY 18 | Noon – 4pm
WE ALL GET FREE Pre-conference Workshop
The National WW II Museum

MONDAY, MAY 20 | Noon – 5:30pm
Museums & Race Lounge
Interactive Artist Installation

Community Cypher | 1-2pm
AAM Museums & Race Talk Back

Community Cypher | 3-4pm
Inclusive Leadership: The Rise of DEAI Officers

TUESDAY, MAY 21 | 10am – 5:30pm
Museums & Race Lounge
Interactive Artist Installation

Community Cypher | 10-11am
Naming and Subverting Whiteness in Museum Education

Community Cypher | Noon-1pm
Insisting on Equity: Collaborative Strategies through MASS Action

Community Cypher | 1-2pm
We Have a Place Here: Mixed Race and Museums

Community Cypher | 3:15-4:15pm
Is That Hung White: Representation in Exhibition Design

“HAPPY HOUR” and MR Poetry Slam | 4:30 – 5:30pm

WEDNESDAY, MAY 22 | 8:30am – Noon
Museums & Race Lounge

Community Cypher | 8:30-9:30am
Empathy: Core vs Cosmetic

Special Thanks to:

WC_logo_RGB - Susie Wilkening


1_auut-studio  web-CCM

Laissez les bons temps rouller!

Looking forward to 2020

If you’re interested in serving on the 2019-2020 Museums & Race Steering Committee, let us know! 

Super shirts for a super crew! (AAM 2019)

It’s that time again.
Time for critical conference wardrobe decisions.*
(order by April 29 to ensure pre-AAM delivery)

Limited edition We All Get Free

*Proceeds from the sale of this shirt go to support the ongoing work of Museums and Race as we reclaim space for action on issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in the field and support one another in this work.


Ayo Fam!

Museums and Race #AAM2019 Sponsorship Opportunities are Live!

We’re looking for a few more generous souls to help us make the 2019 Museums and Race Transformation and Justice Lounge and WE ALL GET FREE Pre-conference the best it can be.

Does that sound like you or your organization?

Learn more or jump in and sign-up at the right level for you.

Your financial support ensures that the Transformation & Justice Lounge remains THE go-to space in #AAM2019 Expo Hall for: meaningful networking, recharging (your spirit + your phone), quiet reflection, lightening talks, community cyphers, and collaborative art.

For real, for real, your financial support:

  • puts snacks on the table, 
  • streams documentaries on the TV, 
  • adds “1-2-3” to the microphone check, 
  • places essential oils in the relaxation corner, 
  • prints the newly re-designed Report Cards,
  • covers processing fees for the new t-shirts

and NEW for 2019,

You can sponsor/gift a colleague’s attendance to Museums and Race’s
“WE ALL GET FREE” Retreat and Restorative Experience (May 18th)