Episode No. 485 of The Modern Art Notes Podcast is a holiday week clips episode featuring curator and historian Kelli Morgan.
Earlier this week, Charles Venable, the director of Newfields, the institution formerly and best known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art, resigned in the wake of the museum’s publishing a series of racist job postings via the executive search firm m/Oppenheim. Once its racism became a national news story and after Venable resigned, Newfields released an institutional apology that said, “We are sorry. We have made mistakes. We have let you down. We are ashamed of Newfields’ leadership and of ourselves. We have ignored, excluded, and disappointed members of our community and staff.”
The final event that instigated change in Indianapolis was a letter that called for Venable’s resignation and major board reforms that was signed by 85 Newfields staffers. The instigating event of the public crisis at Newfields was the resignation of curator Kelli Morgan last summer. Morgan departed the museum via a much-circulated letter that specifically addressed the museum’s racism and dedication to whiteness. Just before resigning, Moran she published an assessment of the art museum field titled “To Bear Witness: Real Talk about White Supremacy in Art Museums Today” in multiple venues, including in Burnaway and the Indianapolis Recorder.
Just before Morgan left Indianapolis, she joined host Tyler Green to discuss the challenges and opportunities within presenting permanent collection galleries of nineteenth-century American art when most American art museums’ collections of the period consist of primarily white artists. This week’s episode is a re-airing of that conversation.
For images of the artworks discussed on the program, see Episode No. 453.
Air date: February 18, 2021.