Yuma I. Tomes, Horning Chair for Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion, on the importance of DEAI.

Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion (DEAI) should never be an afterthought, but the prelude in advancing all initiatives at The Phillips Collection.

The Phillips Collection. Photo: Carl Nard

The horrific and tragic events of 2020 exposed old, unhealed racial wounds and highlighted glaring inequities across various cultures and genders. It has been said many times, if we fail to understand our history, we are doomed to repeat it. DEAI work focuses all of us on doing the “work” so that we learn, grow, and forge new paths for equal representation. One of the first steps in doing the “work” is to analyze class, power, and institutional/individual relationships to and within communities. As power is analyzed, it becomes clearer how we play a role in maintaining the current disparate racial outcomes that every system and institution produces.

Museums are microcosms of the larger society, in that they tell the stories of who we are, where we have been, how we have evolved, and where were going. They are a portal into our cultural heritage and yet a teaching tool in acknowledging differences and similarities, at the same time. Reflecting on the rich diversity of our heritage is a must for museums.

We, at The Phillips Collection, aspire to permeate every area with principles of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion. DEAI initiatives to address systemic issues such as the lack of museum directors of color or from underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds is everybody’s “work.” The Phillips Collection has begun the work to advance these and other initiatives through recruiting talented and diverse interns and fellows, staff, and directors. Further, in 2021 the DEAI department along with dedicated staff initiated an Anti-Racism Series for The Phillips Collection. These are positive advances that must be connected to strategic planning and infrastructure. Over the next several months we will begin to implement Diversity Intergroup Dialogue Sessions (DIDS) to build on the momentum established last year. This series will commence in September and will be a combination of professional presentations and staff-led group discussions. DEAI is only productive when fully embraced by all its members.

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