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Building an Equitable and Inclusive Museum

At the Brooklyn Museum, we’re committed to growing diversity, inclusion, and accessibility at every level, with the goals of cultivating equitable experiences for our communities and contributing to systemic change.

In recent years, we have intensified our efforts to counter structural inequities and the legacies of oppression that so greatly affect our society. We’re building an anti-oppressive culture that weaves equity and inclusion into every aspect of our work—from our collecting practices to our exhibitions, public programs, visitor engagement, and community partnerships, to employee opportunities, Board governance, and how we budget and spend our resources.

Our journey toward realizing these DEIA goals, as outlined in our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Plan, is an ongoing effort that must include a variety of perspectives. We recognize the harm—whether intentional or unintentional—that exclusionary practices and misinformation throughout the museum sector have caused, and we are committed to learning from the past and present. Despite our best intentions, we may make mistakes along the way; however, we aim to build accountability, leading to more empathetic and just decision-making.

Our DEIA Plan and Progress

In 2019, the Brooklyn Museum developed a five-year plan to advance our commitment to DEIA. With this plan, we address structural issues that undermine our values while we refine our operations through an equity lens. It’s our hope that achieving the six goals outlined in the plan will result in a more accessible, inclusive environment that allows all staff and visitors to flourish.

Read our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Plan (updated as of June 2022).

The work of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access is never complete, and it’s an ongoing, evolving process at the Brooklyn Museum. As we continue to interrogate and reflect on the ways that systemic oppression has affected our communities and collections—in the museum field and beyond—we’re exploring ways to create an anti-oppressive environment. Our DEIA Plan challenges us to do so by looking inward, focusing on our internal operations and workplace culture.

We invite you to revisit this page for updates on our DEIA priorities, what we’re learning along the way, and how we’re tracking our progress.

Shared Language

To move from discussion to action, we must have a shared understanding of key concepts. Here’s how we define terms that are essential to this work:

  • Diversity is the range of human differences, including but not limited to ability, age, cultural practices, ethnicity, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.
  • Equity is an approach that ensures everyone has the support necessary to access the same opportunities.
  • Inclusion means making people with a variety of identities part of the Museum through active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity.
  • Access is the opportunity for people of all bodies, abilities, cultural identities, socioeconomic statuses, and backgrounds to enter and interact with the Museum with dignity.
  • Oppression is the intentional or unintentional use of power to subjugate, disempower, or marginalize a group, resulting in the privilege or dominance of another group. While there are many examples of oppression, oppressive practices are often described in four categories:
    • Internalized oppression describes thoughts, feelings, and values that individuals hold.
    • Interpersonal oppression describes behaviors, language, and actions between people.
    • Institutional oppression describes the policies, practices, codes, and procedures that shape an organization.
    • Structural oppression describes the way that systems (social, legal, political, etc.) are organized and maintained.
  • Anti-oppression is the active interrogation, mitigation, or dismantlement of oppressive systems and practices.