Since I arrived at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh nearly two years ago, I have been leading conversations about the concept of “commonwealth.” This word has very rich meanings for us at Carnegie Museums. Our four museums, distinct but interdependent, constitute a form of cultural commonwealth. Further, our museums are essential cultural resources for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Most importantly, the collections and expertise that the museums steward represent the cultural “common wealth” of humanity.
Carnegie Museums staff at a January 4 development day focused on identity and inclusion.
We believe profoundly that access to our exhibitions and programs enriches the lives of individuals and communities —all individuals and communities. For that reason, we are committed to the principle of inclusion. Everyone should be able to enjoy such offerings as Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs, now at the Museum of Natural History, and the Michael Chow exhibition at The Warhol, two new shows profiled in this issue of CARNEGIE magazine. All youngsters should be able to participate in our educational programming, such as Carnegie Science Center’s acclaimed science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) offerings and the Museum of Art’s art classes.
On January 4, the staffs of all four museums and our central services teams came together to dedicate the first working day of the new year to a discussion of social inclusion. This was one of several activities currently under way to help us think seriously about our responsibilities to an increasingly diverse society. Among the questions guiding our diversity initiatives:
- Where might there be barriers to participation for people with disabilities? How might we eliminate or at least lower those barriers?
- How might we most effectively engage rising generations? What is the role of digital technology in meeting “digital natives” where they work, play, and learn?
- As a predominantly white institution, how might we better engage and represent the wide range of racial and ethnic identities that makes our city and region so dynamic?
- How might we increase access to exhibitions and programs for those with limited economic resources?
- Where might there be valuable opportunities for us to offer exhibitions or programs that stimulate thoughtful discussion a bout human differences?
There are no quick, easy, or definitive answers to these questions. But the process of trying to answer them is helping us identify actions that will extend Carnegie Museums’ already impressive history of community participation, engagement, and representation.
A great museum is a truly public resource, a place where people from all backgrounds and walks of life share enriching and entertaining experiences. The more inclusive the Carnegie Museums are, the greater and richer they will be.
Jo Ellen Parker, President & CEO
Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh