Our Commitments to Anti-Racism, Diversity, and a Stronger Community

Daniel H. Weiss and Max Hollein
July 6, 2020

These last few weeks have brought urgent attention to longstanding issues of racism in the United States and around the world. Our government, policies, systems, and institutions have all contributed to perpetuating racism and injustice, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art must reflect on its past and aspire to be an agent of change. We have learned much in these past weeks and held many important conversations. We all recognize that progress on these difficult issues is long overdue, and we now have the opportunity to accelerate our work to achieve genuine and enduring change. Today, we are sharing a series of commitments as a next step towards creating a more open, welcoming, and equitable institution. We also recognize, however, that substantive change will also require that we understand our past and that we accept the importance of truth-seeking as a necessary part of the process of learning and reconciliation.

Our list of thirteen commitments below memorializes our objective to align words and deeds, to bring meaningful change through systemic improvement in our policies, practices, and priorities. Our list includes new approaches to how we hire, train, support, and retain staff, to how we build, study, and oversee our collection and program, and how we structure our governance and engage our community. Over the past weeks we have consulted intensely with many voices, both within and outside the Museum, to shape what it should be. Our list is not exhaustive, but it represents a significant agenda for improvement at this time and in the days and months ahead. Some of these actions are immediate and measurable, while others will take longer to implement, but we are committed to the success of each of them.

As the leaders of The Met, we are responsible for the wellbeing of our community, and we are accountable for realizing these commitments. Our efforts, and this list, will not change the Museum overnight, but they will move The Met forward in evolving the Museum on a path towards greater fairness, opportunity, and service to the public and each other.


Daniel H. Weiss and Max Hollein

Assessing Our History

1. A set of commitments to anti-racism cannot begin without an honest assessment of an institution’s own history and present practices. This process will require that we investigate our own history and that we accept the importance of truth-seeking as an essential element of healing and reconciliation. We will begin this work in the coming year through an institution-wide initiative and produce a public report. This initiative will provide the foundation for further iterations of these commitments.

Hiring, Training, and Retention of Staff

2. Require anti-racism training for all staff, volunteers, and Trustees.

a. Training will include building awareness of unconscious bias and other forms of discrimination as well as systemic and institutional racism, including issues specific to The Met but also the cultural sector at large.

b. We will provide training on the following timeline:

i. Senior Leadership and Department Heads in 60 days
ii. All employees in 180 days
iii. Trustees in 180 days
iv. Volunteers in 360 days
v. Training annually thereafter for all employees and volunteers

c. Ensure all staff, Trustees, and volunteers know the policies for addressing racist statements or actions and the various procedures for reporting violations of professional conduct (in person and anonymously) and send twice-yearly reminders of the policies and procedures to all groups.

3. Hire a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) within four months.

a. The CDO will report to the CEO and serve as a senior Museum officer.

b. The Office of the CDO will include support staff, necessary budget and other resources, and support from HR and Counsel.

4. Commit to a program of hiring Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) candidates to Department Head and senior leadership roles, including all open positions.

a. All searches will require senior approval of process and a diverse short-list of candidates.

b. Employ search firms with proven record in hiring BIPOC candidates.

c. Provide specific recruiting guidelines and training for all hiring managers and interview panelists designed to heighten unconscious bias awareness, and identify tools for a more effective interview process.

5. Invest in recruiting, hiring, retaining, and advancing BIPOC candidates and staff across the institution, including curatorial, conservation, all administrative departments, and all program departments.

a. Commit to further diversifying the curatorial, conservation, and other professional staff through revised search processes for every new hire.

b. Identify and address barriers to the retention and development of BIPOC employees at all levels.

c. Conduct a comprehensive salary equity review to ensure competitiveness and equity for all positions.

d. Review the current structure of Internships and Fellowships as follows:

i. Undergraduate and graduate internships: Increase paid positions to 100% (from 36%) by 2022.
ii. High School Internship program: Increase percentage of students placed from Title 1 schools to 75% (from 50%) by 2022.
iii. Increase number of Interdisciplinary Fellowships to attract scholars, artists, and performers in fields that go beyond more traditional art history and expand applicant pool of BIPOC applicants.
iv. Enlist the Chief Diversity Officer to establish memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with colleges and universities, especially with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), to support a pipeline of BIPOC individuals for internships, fellowships, and permanent positions.

e. Work with the Volunteer Organization to increase diversity of its members, with the goal of more closely reflecting the city’s ethnically diverse population and neighborhoods.

6. Provide ongoing resources and support for community building, staff mentoring, and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

a. Establish a greater focus on values and community as part of onboarding process.

b. Support ERGs by providing sufficient budget to support engagement and projects; fostering two-way dialogue on Museum decisions and initiatives; and offering support for professional and career development.

c. Expand opportunities for staff to meet and build connections with colleagues from other areas of the Museum, such as through the creation of a staff mentoring program or other mechanisms.

Collection and Program

7. Further strengthen a program of exhibitions, events, and publications that addresses complex and unfamiliar narratives, cross-cultural perspectives, and fosters a more diverse and expanded canon of art history.

a. Realize diverse future exhibitions, installations, and programs in the next three years, including those focused on the Struggle Series by Jacob Lawrence, Harlem Renaissance, Edgefield Pottery, Carpeaux’s Why Born Enslaved, Juan de Pareja, Africa and Byzantium, Héctor Zamora commission, a Fidelio opera production with an all-Black cast, Matthew Evan Taylor commission, and the establishment of the Afrofuturist Period Room.

b. Implement a $3–5 million fund to support initiatives, exhibitions, and acquisitions in the area of diverse art histories.

c. Consider timing, approach, and engagement with current events during the development of critical programming.

d. Implement project advisory committees for select exhibitions and gallery reinstallations, with a mandate to critique concepts, expand and challenge the perspectives, support the development of new narratives and interpretations, and scrutinize institutional biases.

e. Further amplify work of BIPOC curators, scholars, external collaborators, and artists in Museum programming.

f. Foster direct engagement between local communities and External Affairs and Digital departments in addition to existing connections with Education to further diversify audiences and messaging.

8. Diversify the collections and its narratives.

a. Focus first and foremost on what we already have (i.e., the objects in our permanent collection), discussion of their arrival at the Museum and how we can best display and contextualize them. This will continue to be a greater priority than adding to portions of our collection that are already very strong.

b. Support cross-departmental collaborations and presentations that engage multiple perspectives and divergent views. Make space for alternative, conflicting, and dissenting voices. Foster understanding of connections across cultures, geographically and historically.

c. Emphasize the diverse social, political, and economic context of Met objects and their entangled histories.

d. Expand focus on collecting art by BIPOC artists. Within the next 12 months, establish specified acquisition endowments with a total value of $10 million to increase the amount of works by BIPOC artists in our 20th- and 21st-century collections.

e. Commit to intellectual investment by supporting new scholarship and publications about art by Black artists, building their legacy and re-examining history. Bring the voices of art historians, critics, and other scholars to the interpretation of portrayals of Black subjects and Black culture in all periods of Western art history.

f. Expand our strong program of collecting global contemporary art.

g. Partner with artistic voices and visiting scholars in the humanities to challenge and interpret The Met’s history and collection.

h. Present a refreshed and diversified narrative, including discourse on cultural heritage and collaborate with local cultural leaders, curators, and voices in the upcoming major reinstallations of our galleries devoted to sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania, and the ancient Americas, as well as in our Ancient Near Eastern galleries and other permanent collection gallery renovations, including the Asian Art galleries.

i. Implement strategies for an anti-racist approach to the display of representation of indviduals/populations of color. Review and update the contextual information and dialogues within our current collection, starting with the American Wing, European Paintings, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Greek and Roman, Medieval Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, and Photographs.

j. Prioritize programming on The Met’s digital channels that highlights diverse perspectives and expands narratives on the past and present of art history. Integrate multimedia content/context in gallery displays. This will be piloted in the renovation of our galleries devoted to sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania, and the ancient Americas that will highlight these three distinct artistic traditions.

k. Consider a long-term plan to redistribute the locations of specific collections and special exhibition areas within the Museum to heighten presence and create new sequences of narratives.

Governance and Community

9. Implement new Supplier Diversity Policy to award increased levels of business to Diverse Suppliers (defined as at least 51% ownership by BIPOC, women, LGBTQ, and/or veterans) by the end of Fiscal Year 2021.

10. Increase the number of minority and women-owned investment firms that manage the Museum’s investment assets.

11. Increase the representation of BIPOC individuals on the Board of Trustees.

a. Support Trustee DEIA plan through the formation of a new ad hoc Board task force.

b. Increase representation of BIPOC Trustees in Board leadership positions.

12. Deepen collaborations with our communities.

a. Strengthen partnership with the Advisory Committee on Cultural Engagement (ACCE) by inviting members to join the External Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees and by adding Board of Trustee representation on ACCE.

b. Strengthen Civic Practice Project Artist in Residency Program.

13. Commit to an annual diversity audit to be conducted by the CDO to review progress and establish new objectives. The CDO will provide an annual report on Museum diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) progress to the Board of Trustees in Executive Session and provide regular updates on DEIA initiatives to staff and volunteers.

Daniel Weiss

Daniel H. Weiss is the president and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Max Hollein standing on the steps outside The Met

Max Hollein

Max Hollein is the Marina Kellen French Director and Chief Executive Officer of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.