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Nevada Museum of Art faces backlash after artists demand solidarity with Black Lives Matter

By Sudhiti Naskar
Published: Last Updated on
The Nevada Museum of Art reopened June 20 for a community day. Image: Isaac Hoops

Black Lives Matter, a loosely organized worldwide movement, has caused numerous institutions to question how they ensure recognition of Black, Indigenous and people of color. Here in Reno, local arts organizations and museums are being confronted with historically white legacies. 

The Nevada Museum of Art faced a dust-up recently. Artists said that the NMA has a problem: its leadership, all…

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David Judy July 31, 2020 - 9:25 am

The origen of the word “museum” from the Greek word ” mouseion” means a temple or shrine of the Muses. The Latin definition is a library or study. Given these origens, I am curious as to why an apolitical institution that celebrates the arts and the spread of knowledge should be held accountable for today’s political storm clouds.

Everyone should be aware of and support racial equality as a given truth. Thus, the board of directors, the major donors, the staff, and those who visit the Nevada Museum of Art are responsible for and entitled to their beliefs and opinions. Just because an organization does not publicly voice agreement with a given cause does not mean that it is “bad”. The NMA is an art museum it is not a political forum. I can not believe that most people expect a museum to voice a political or moral position.

The Original peaceful doctrine of the BLM is just and likely needed in our country. However it is not fair or in keeping with our nation’s principles to hold the reputation of any individual, institution, or company hostage if there is not complete agreement with or immediate support for any given cause or movement. ( as with the condemnation of Goya foods over the CEO’s right to support any political affiliation he desires)

Let us all have discussion and resolution of or nations problems with out condemnation and unfair expectation. Museums should be places where we can learn and enjoy rather than platforms for further conflict.

Will Turman July 30, 2020 - 2:15 pm

It seems like a lack of enthusiastic endorsement of Black Lives Matter by the Nevada Museum of Art is likely due to the museum attempting to appease/retain large donors and corporate sponsorships. As an institution, it can be difficult to face losing financial support at scale due to taking a stance – of course, taking such a stand for racial equality and justice is absolutely the right thing to do.

It seems like the museum is faced with a decision whether they exist to facilitate art as a medium for public commentary and expression, or as simply a handful of walls to hold wine drinking events. It appears as if the museum is trying to straddle the issue, but while they waver, I for one, will eagerly choose to only support museums, galleries, and exhibits who are firmly committed to supporting black and minority artists in their lives and pursuits instead of simply exploiting/exhibiting them for their acclaim.

Elaine Hoem July 30, 2020 - 2:15 pm

What a day to read this article right after I watched Barack Obama eulogizing John Lewis and exhorting every one of us to carry his mantle forward in all the courageous and persistent ways that we can. What happens from here on out depends upon each of us and all of our organizations and institutions to dig deep into our silence and hidden racial roots and then to shift perspectives and take action in meaningful ways – ways that go beyond surface words. If we are being true to the highest ideals of our democracy, our new antiracist values will blaze forth in all that we do from here on out. I trust that the museums in our country will figure this out. We will know they have overcome the silent neglect so prevalent in our privileged white world by featuring installations that emblazon the passions of our artists of color. When we all do this well, there will be little doubt about how we are including and celebrating the visions of our brothers and sisters of color.

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