Update:

Please note there may be some disruption to our site while we install our Christmas lights

Diversity & Inclusion Plan

As an American museum – and as the only one of its kind outside the United States – we have a responsibility and an opportunity to celebrate and represent our diversity. We don’t want to tell just one side of a story, particularly one of privilege representing only a few people. The history of America includes rich and varied culture spanning many centuries. But this history comes with a difficult past and legacy, including inequalities that remain to this day. This legacy and these enduring inequalities challenge us all to review and better understand both our past and our present as we look to present a more inclusive offer at the Museum and a more thorough representation of the world around us.

We know that we have more work to do to bring more diverse stories to light, to ensure that all sides of American history (both historic and contemporary) are told, and to provide relevant programming for our audiences. We have outlined where we are in this journey below, and we will continue to review and supplement this plan as we look forward.

The story of our founding as an institution is an inspiring one to tell. The Museum was founded for cross-cultural exchange by an Anglo-American couple, Dr Dallas Pratt and John Judkyn, who were partners in both their personal and collecting lives. Dallas wanted to share with the British public the aesthetic charm of early American furniture and decorative arts and their historical background. John wanted to inform the British of the outstanding American achievements in these arts and crafts and promote Anglo-American understanding.

As we look to the future, we can take inspiration from Dallas and John’s original vision. While keeping the original decorative and cultural focus of the collection at the heart of our museum, we will also emphasise an ever important cross-cultural exchange so that we can expand opportunities for dialogue while inspiring new generations.

We have already established several initiatives at the American Museum to support our diversity and inclusion goals. These include:

  • Programming a range of exhibitions and events to represent more diverse perspectives. We will be announcing an exciting partnership with the University of Hull for a special exhibition that will open next March. We are also in current discussions with local partners about other potential partnerships for this year and in the future.
  • Celebrating our LGBTQ+ heritage as an institution, we will continue to share and highlight the inspirational and trailblazing story of our founders while celebrating diversity of our staff and communities
  • Participating as a partner in the Pathways to Wellbeing programme, which supports people with experience of mental health issues through creative programmes delivered in inspirational settings.
  • Offering a range of visitor services such as:
    • Significant investments in making our site as accessible as possible with wheelchairs available around the site, a tramper for hire and the recent creation of lifts, accessible ramps, and pathways
    • Noise cancelling headphones that can be borrowed from our ticket office to support autism and other SEND needs.
    • Large-print format and foreign-language sheets as well as closed-captioning on newly commissioned films and hearing loops
    • Dementia support including signage such as ‘way out’ in small spaces
    • Facilities for babies, children, and breast-feeding mothers

As we look to make further changes in the future, we are currently reviewing:

  • Our permanent galleries and garden signage and panels; this will be done in three phases:
    • The first phase includes small changes we are already making to existing text labels
    • The second phase will be a detailed review this year of our text to ensure that we tell a more balanced story including updating graphic panels, reviewing location of content, and reinterpreting our collections. We will be exploring questions such as how objects were collected, what their origins were, and what stories they represent.
    • The third phase is a plan to make more substantial changes that would include new period rooms that tell contemporary stories as well as a more detailed review of all of our galleries and garden signage. This will require funding and we are in the process now of establishing estimates in order to be able to seek assistance through grants and individual gifts.
    • For all phases of this work, we will be setting up focus groups as well as working with experts from communities that are represented to ensure that a diverse range of voices are heard and represented.
  • Our staff and volunteer training offer will include diversity and inclusion as well as unconscious bias training across the organisation. We will also revise our recruitment process to ensure that we have a team, both staff and volunteers, that reflects our goals and diversity as an institution as well as that as a community.
  • Lastly, we have established an internal diversity and inclusion task force with representation from both staff members and volunteers to help us reach these goals outlined here and to share and discuss ideas for the future.

If you have ideas about what we can do – and if you would like to be involved – then please be in touch on [email protected]. We would love to hear from you, and we look forward to sharing progress on our initiatives as we continue to look to the future.