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Black Lives Matter

Museums make a commitment to collecting, sharing, and stewardship. What we collect and show becomes a reflection of our institutional values. We are also called on to serve as both advocate and model for the good and the best in our community and fellow citizens.

Our Commitment

In June 2020, inspired by the bold action of organizers and activists in the Black community, Philbrook made a public commitment to do more to eradicate racism within our own institution and in our community. We also committed to updating you regularly on this work.

Statement dated June 5, 2020:

We grieve with our community and our country. The murders of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Terence Crutcher, and countless other Black Americans have sparked protests in cities large and small. As we reflect on the tragedy of the Tulsa Race Massacre 99 years ago this week, we stand today in solidarity with millions of voices demanding justice and reform.

We look to our institutional values and acknowledge our privileged position as a civic influencer, with a responsibility to promote positive change and champion social justice. We will not stand by as a silent witness to systemic racism, marginalization, and intolerance. Nor can we sidestep the hard work ahead as we confront the privilege, colonialism, and inequity that exists as the bedrock of most museums, including our own.

Philbrook must do more to eradicate racism. Our entire staff is engaging in open, uncomfortable dialogue about this moment and ways to take action, as individuals and as an organization. To fully realize our mission, we will amplify the voices of Black artists and cultural institutions across and in partnership with our community. We recognize that it is our responsibility to do this work.

Today we share three projects representative of the work we will do to translate these words into enduring action:

  • We commit to acquiring and commissioning the majority of new works for the museum from Black artists for the next three years, with a continuing commitment to acquisitions of works by Black artists into the future.
  • We commit to an externally-guided Diversity Assessment of the staff, leadership, and Board of Trustees this year to surface and begin to correct inequities and to explore ways to better reflect the diversity of the communities we seek to serve. The findings will be used to develop an Advisory Council on Diversity made up of external stakeholders to hold us accountable to continued progress.
  • We commit to the presentation of From the Limitations of Now, an exhibition in spring 2021 featuring the work of many Black artists who reflect on the tragedy of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and the long legacy of systemic racism in this country. While addressing violence, they also point to important ways art allows us to more deeply examine the past and to imagine the world otherwise. Programming will be crafted in partnership with Tri-City Collective.

We have much work to do. It will not only require constant listening to you, our friends, members, partners, supporters, and critics, but also constant action and change in response to what we learn along the way. We are committed to that change and we will be measured by our actions.

Black lives matter.

Our Progress:

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

On June 5, 2020, Philbrook committed to completing an externally-guided Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion assessment.

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