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Newfields Regrets Reference To 'White Art Audience' In Job Description

Robert Indiana's "Love" sculpture outside the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Robert Indiana's "LOVE" sculpture outside the Indianapolis Museum of Art. (Serge Melki, Wikimedia Commons)

The Indianapolis Museum of Art expressed regret Saturday for a job posting that included a reference to maintaining its “white art audience.”

The description said the museum was seeking to "attract a broader and more diverse audience while maintaining the Museum's traditional, core, white art audience”.

“We deeply regret that in our job description, in our attempt to focus on building and diversifying our core audience, our wording was divisive rather than inclusive,” the Newfields campus, which includes the art museum, said in an emailed statement.

“Our intention is to continue to build an institution that is truly inclusive,” it said.

The job description, posted in January by the San Francisco-based m/Oppenheim executive search group, has since been changed. The section that included the reference to White audiences now says it seeks to “welcome and embrace a more diverse audience while maintaining the Museum’s traditional core art audience.”

Sarah Bahr, a culture reporter for The New York Times who previously wrote for Indiana publications, shared the description on Twitter on Friday.

The Indianapolis Arts Council said it was “deeply disappointed and concerned” by the posting.

“The declaration of interest in maintaining their ‘traditional core, white art audience,’ served to undermine their stated value of inclusivity and desire to ‘attract a broader and more diverse audience’ made in other parts of the description,” the council said in a statement.

“While we are working hard to make progress in racial equity and inclusion across our arts and culture sector, we are frequently reminded just how much work we have to do. We want to believe this isn't who we are, but this is exactly where we are. And it has to change.”

Last summer, a Black curator for the art museum resigned over its “toxic” environment.

Kelli Morgan, a curator of American art and instructor at Indiana University’s Herron School of Art + Design, told The Indianapolis Star that discrimination was pervasive and that the museum failed to properly support art made by minorities.

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