Indianapolis Museum of Art president resigns after "core white audience" job listing fiasco

Because I work in the field and see all the conversations on email lists.


I’d argue that this isn’t just about those conversations within the field, though. It’s about the inability to accept that it’s a structural problem outside of just individual racism (which myself and others here have noted, are easier to spot and oppose for white people).

If a person is white, and might not see these problems because it just never occurred to them, they’re not going to be having those conversations and might not be receptive to them if they come up.


You know… I’d believe it.

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I only lasted 24 years before I got out of indiana. (have not been back, have not missed it)
Indiana was, indeed, that bad. I mean, this is a state that elected Mike Pense as Governor. Do not forget that.

I recall that we referred to the bottom 2/3rds of indiana as “Northern Kentucky”.

I would argue that the probably-all-white (or close to it) senior management and board of directors WERE in fact realizing the problem and were trying to figure out a way forward to fix it. Obviously they did a terrible job in how they presented it to the outside world, but it seems to me that they were at least a few steps on the journey already. Not as far as we would like, but they were trying to figure it out. Baby steps.

I just hope – knowing the locals in Indiana – that this doesn’t ‘prove how irrational and demanding woke culture is’ and cause them to stop going down the path they were just starting.

It’s like finding technical fault with a preschooler’s crayon artwork. In the early stages they need to get a lot of nonjudgmental support and the freedom to keep trying over and over again. Otherwise, they’ll shut down, and never draw again.

And yeah, I’ve just compared experienced non-profit (white) administrators with toddlers. If the shoe fits!


Oh, you’re absolutely right about that - broader structural racism in the US plays a big role in this.

My argument is that leadership of most cultural institutions are sincere in resolving and addressing racism and developing diversity. The problem is where their money comes from, and how desperate most any institution is to financially survive. A major donor pulls out and you lose a curator or a show. Two major donors pull and you’re wondering how to pay bills. Where I work, if a piece of equipment fails someone has to go beg for money so we can fix it. You end up beholden to some pretty arrogant people who want a say in how things are run.


In video games there is the very famous thing at the end of Metroid where you take off your helmet, and it turns out you were a woman the entire time. Or in some of the sequels you get to see when you die.

It’s been considered one of the greatest surprises in all of gaming, although really, the only reason it should be is how rarely it turns out that way.


I’m not up on gaming culture, but feel like this is the Cliff’s Notes version of everything wrong with it :joy:


I guess I don’t see it as a ‘cultural’ issue so much as a financial one (though I recognize those can’t be completely separated). The museum has a core audience/donor base which is rich and white. That group will be more important to the museum than other groups because the museum depends on that group for its existence. And the mission of placating that core group doesn’t preclude certain types of ‘ethnic’ art, as long as it accords with the core group’s tastes. In fact I’m sure that’s exactly what the museum is looking for: a curator who can find the ‘right’ non-white art to please the rich white core audience so everyone can pat themselves on the back about their catholic tastes. The ad thus perfectly described the situation.

I’m not trying to condone or justify this state of affairs, but just to describe what I see to be the case.

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The other side to this is that older wealthy white people are the main patrons now because they’re the ones who have always been catered to. All cultural institutions are trying desperately to court younger generations to care about them, because the old guard won’t be around forever. Some places are doing a better job of it than others. But in general there is a growing understanding that younger generations, even those who are white, want demand (and will support) much greater diversity. For so many organizations, however, they’re seeing a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon between where they are and where the younger potential donors are standing. They don’t know how to cross over. They just know they have to.


Related Instagram post I’d posted in the misogyny thread: