Protesters in front of the Brooklyn Museum in May 2016 (photo by @kino___eye)

Art

These activists want to decolonize the whole Brooklyn Museum, not just its white curator for African Art

May 16, 2018
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The Brooklyn Museum is just one example of this global trend of white institutions separating artifacts from their countries of origin. And while some to many (depending on the institution) of artifacts and art pieces are gained through legitimate means, the majority ain’t. So when the museum announced that the new curator of their African Art department was a white woman, nobody was really shocked. Because the fact of the matter is that this hiring decision and the world of art curation is symptomatic of the larger colonization of African and Indigenous nations and a pillaging of our cultures and resources.

Isn’t that what we should be focused on? Well, one activist movement is. These activists, like Marz Saffore and a collection of orgs in the NYC area are now calling on the Brooklyn Museum to help them decolonize their institution through reparations and repatriation. The goal of this movement is to first have the museum acknowledge the land that it sits upon as Indigenous land and to catalog the inventory of its African and Indigenous art and how it was acquired. And for the next phase, activists are asking that the museum upgrade the work conditions and pay for ground staff including security, food, and janitorial services, employees that are often people of color.
They also point out how the Museum participates in gentrification and displacement. They recommend “the replacement of Board president David Berliner and other trustees who are real estate tycoons with a broad cross-section of artists and community organizers.”

Learn more about the Decolonize Brooklyn Museum movement, here.

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