Dear friends of HistoryMiami Museum,
Over the summer of 2020, HistoryMiami Museum was challenged to do better.
We made a commitment to our community to examine our actions, policies and practices as an institution to ensure that we do the work to be an anti-racist museum. We at HistoryMiami Museum are working every day to be a museum that is of, by, and for our community.
In August, we sent out a list of commitments to you in a letter after receiving feedback from collaborators, community stakeholders, and staff. In the last 6 months we have started working towards delivering on these commitments. The museum secured a community consultant from the Black community in August to work in partnership with us and to ensure that we center this work in an authentic way.
This work is only beginning, but our goal is to be as transparent as possible in our commitment to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion (DEAI), so we’d like to share this update with you today.
- Commitment – Retire Henry Flagler Award
Update: As detailed in our last letter, we retired our Henry Flagler Award that was awarded at our annual Flamingo Ball to a family or business who has made significant contributions to the community.
- Commitment – Board diversity
Update: The board has been meeting with Black community stakeholders, and we are electing additional board members this month. Our board voted to remove the potential barrier of financial commitment to join the board. Board members have also taken part in tours of the museum to review the strengths and weaknesses of our core exhibition in order to provide feedback to help inform our future work. A board member has also donated a large gift that will go toward a new initiative to amplify stories from the Black community that we will be announcing soon.
- Commitment – Anti-racism professional development for staff
Update: Through ongoing trainings and discussions, we are continuing to focus on how we can be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive in all of our work at the museum. Staff has worked with the Yes Institute on anti-bias training and took part in the YWCA 21-Day Challenge to develop a deeper understanding of how inequity and racism affect our lives and our community. Staff also took part in an authentic community engagement seminar. The leadership team will begin DEAI coaching this month with an outside consultant.
- Commitment – Attracting and retaining Black staff
Update: We are diligently working to be mindful of who the museum employs to ensure we are offering opportunities for our diverse community. We continue our effort to retain and hire diverse staff members. We have enhanced the way we advertise our open positions to include creating advertisements in The Miami Times, and are working with universities, professors, BIPOC student groups, and local non-profits to better recruit people of color. We modified our way of accepting applications and now take hard copy applications for those that do not have access to a computer. We have also created space for staff to express themselves and receive support.
- Commitment – Formulate listening circles
Update: We know the only way to do better is by listening to and engaging with our community, regularly and one on one. With the help of our consultant, internal interviews of all staff members, during which each member was provided the opportunity to share feedback on diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion, have been conducted. We also began meeting with external members of the community to hear their thoughts on how we can better move forward. More listening circles are being planned for this year so that we can hear from the community at large. We will also hold more intimate listening circles with various community stakeholders, including members of the Black community, LGBTQ+ community, Latinx community, and educators.
- Commitment – Create an advisory board
Update: Once we finalize these listening circles, we will look to create an advisory board. We had initially hoped to have one established by December 2020, but soon realized it was essential to complete all listening circle efforts before developing that board.
- Commitment – Updating Tropical Dreams exhibition
Update: As an institution, we are striving to present the full complexity of the community’s history within all our work, and to offering platforms for Black artists, curators, and other collaborators to share their stories. We are working tirelessly to tell a more complete history of the people who shaped Miami, and staff is actively making changes to our core exhibition, Tropical Dreams: A People’s History of South Florida, which tells the story of our community. This ongoing process has involved many tasks, including addressing harmful language on labels, expanding stories to be more representative, and improving the overall appearance of the exhibition, among other work. Many more changes are planned for the future.
Every day, we are honored and humbled to be Miami’s museum. We know that we have work ahead of us to change our culture to one that is fully welcoming, diverse, and inclusive. In a nod to our equally important commitment to accessibility, when we re-opened our doors in October we did so by announcing we are not charging an admission fee. We hope you will visit the museum soon.We will continue to update you on our commitments and look forward to sharing our progress.
Jorge Zamanillo, Executive Director