The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) has named its Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion (DEAI) award winners, recognizing two institutions in St. Louis and Chicago who led the field in these areas through unique programming, policies and community partnership.
For the first time in the Alliance’s 110-year history, a DEAI award program was launched last year to honor and celebrate institutions of any type or size who advance the museum field, either internally through workplace programs and policies or externally with museum audiences and communities. The two award-winning institutions will be recognized during the general session at the AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo in St. Louis on May 8.
“AAM is proud to celebrate the leadership, creativity, and inspirational work of the Missouri History Museum and The Field Museum,” said Laura Lott, president and CEO of the Alliance. “While much remains to be done in our field to advance diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion, it’s important to hold up shining examples like these so others can follow their lead.”
The Missouri History Museum in St. Louis was honored as an organization for its body of work engaging the St. Louis community to advance DEAI. The museum’s programs in this area, which date back decades, included a town hall meeting in response to public unrest after the 2014 fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The museum also has hosted programs addressing LGBTQ communities, the school-to-prison pipeline, and others topics.
“The Missouri History Museum is a trusted and valued institution in our region,” said Tabari A. Coleman, Education Director for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in St. Louis, which partners with the museum. “Additionally, we feel that the Museum employs a diverse staff, and not just in race and ethnicity, but those whose diversity of thought allows for inclusive programming dedicated to ensuring a spectrum of interests are represented.”
The Field Museum in Chicago was honored for a new suite of programs, events, and resources called “Field for All,” the goal of which is to ensure that all visitors, and most especially families, feel welcomed and supported in the museum. Two such programs that launched in late 2016 and early 2017 are PlayLab Accessibility Days and PlayLab Sensory Saturdays, which provide an early learning space for families with diverse learners and special education students.
A “Field for All” mobile app offers inclusion and accessibility tools, and the museum’s website has a comprehensive accessibility page.
The Alliance strategic plan emphasizes DEAI in all aspects of museum structure and programming ─ in their exhibitions and programs, in their staff and boards, and most importantly in the communities they serve.
The largest gathering of museum professionals in the world, the Annual Meeting attracts leaders and decisionmakers from a wide range of cultural institutions that include art, history, and science museums; military and maritime museums; children’s museums; aquariums, zoos, arboretums, and botanical gardens; and historic homes and sites.