January 22, 2021
Earlier this week, I spent the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday reviewing the year behind us and looking to the year ahead, remembering Dr. King’s clarion call for an equal and just society and his message of nonviolence and love. His words are a reminder of the strength as well as the ongoing challenges of our country. And as I listened to President Joe Biden’s inaugural speech on Wednesday, I noted his invocation of Dr. King and President Abraham Lincoln, and other Americans from our past and present who have inspired us to imagine a better future.
The events of this week underscored that our democracy remains intact, and although we all feel buffeted by the events of the last several months, I believe we can look forward to the possibilities for our collective future. At the New Orleans Museum of Art, we will continue to embrace our civic role as an anchor institution, an art museum for the people of the city of New Orleans. We are eager to share our passion for the power of art to impact all of our lives.
We continue to address our own challenges and opportunities, and engage more deeply and forcefully in issues of critical importance, now and into the future as we build a post-pandemic museum.
Many of our new initiatives already point to a different, more responsive 21st-century museum. In 2020, with self-scrutiny and commitment, we continued our work to address issues in our institution and how we welcome all communities. That has led us to dedicate significant resources of both time and money to examine our structures, hiring practices, work culture, programs, exhibitions, acquisitions—indeed everything we do to fulfill our mission. We recognize the challenges ahead as we strive to be a truly anti-racist institution and a museum that genuinely reflects all of our constituencies. These efforts are documented on NOMA’s website, in our Agenda for Change, which outlines what we have done so far, and provides updates on the work we continue to do.
We believe open dialogue, listening to voices inside and outside the museum, is vitally important. We are doing this through conversations with individuals and small groups, and with the wider community. I will join NOMA staff in hosting open houses on Saturday mornings that will begin as soon as COVID-19 restrictions permit. The goal is to hear concerns, clarify information, and learn from a range of perspectives about how we can be an even stronger and more representative institution. I am here to listen and learn, and I hope you will share your thoughts and ideas with me.
We enter 2021 with a commitment to civility and discourse, advancing diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in our institution and our community. Please accept my best wishes for a healthy, happy, and peaceful New Year.
Susan M. Taylor
The Montine McDaniel Freeman Director