Missouri Historical Society Named National Leader for Diversity and Access


One of the core values of the
Missouri History Museum is to honor inclusivity
and collaboration. One of the biggest goals we
have at the History Museum is for all of our visitors
to feel welcome. We want them to hear stories
that resonate with their
own experiences. We want this to be a place
where multiple perspectives come into dialog with each
other. One of the Missouri History
Museum’s primary functions is to collect and preserve
the region’s history. What the institution chooses to
collect is a critical step in
setting an inclusive tone. Several years ago the History
Museum instituted the LGBTQ
collecting initiative. This was an opportunity for us
to begin collecting artifacts so that we would have artifacts
enough to tell a story. The responsibility of a museum
and the responsibility of histoy is to tell everybody’s story.
Otherwise it’s not history.
It’s not complete history. The Missouri History Museum
engages the community with
current issues and events. The institution addresses
challenging questions and provides a safe space for
visitors to grapple with difficult topics, including
race, class, and
discrimination. One of the most important things
to remember about the Missouri History Museum and it’s
response to Ferguson is that it started before Ferguson.
That we had spent a long time
building connections and communications and
relationships with the African American community, with the
social justice community in St. Louis so that we became a
natural home for those
conversations. Ferguson is an important
historical moment and we have to collect that history to
tell that story otherwise it’s going to be lost In developing exhibitions and programs, the Missouri
History Museum regularly relies on the expertise and
perspectives of our many community partners. The ADL has been partnering
with the Missouri History Museum for about 15 years. So I see the Anti-defamation
League’ s partnering with the museum as helping both the
museum and our organization engage the community. I think it’s a wonderful
opportunity for museum staff to actually think about how they
relate their own personal experiences and socializations
to some of the topics that the museum is looking at. Diversity, inclusion, access;
all of those things are built into our mission, they’re
built into our programs, It’s an ongoing piece of
what we do. It’s not a one-off program, it’s part of the fabric
of our work. Finally, the Missouri History
Museum strives to ensure that the artifacts it collects,
exhibitions it designs, and programs it develops are
equitably accessible to all of
our audiences. The History Museum has ramped
up its efforts at accessibility
in all phases. So not just in the
physical structure, although that is certainly very
important, we now look at exhibs very differently so we include
touchables and we include ways for people who are blind and
people who are deaf to access
parts of those exhibits. The Missouri History Museum is
proud to bear the unique distinction of being the
first museum in the country to receive the Award for
Diversity, Equity, Equity, Accessibility, and
Inclusion from the American Alliance of Museums.

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