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Carlos Tortolero wrote this text in response to an article by Lonnie Bunch, “Museums, Diversity, and the Will to Change” (which appeared in the July/August 2000 issue of Museum News), noting that, while Bunch’s article was well written and informative, it failed to get to the real problem, a kernel which, for Tortolero, is racism. Until the museum world faces up to it, he contends, it will not move forward. Only racism can account for the fact that people of color remain woefully underrepresented on museum staffs and boards. Along with employing people of color, mainstream museums must represent the cultures of people of color in exhibitions and other programming. In sum, Tortolero challenges his peers’ assumption that inclusiveness and diversity initiatives have tackled the problem of racism in U.S. museums by pointing out that people of black race—while highly qualified to work at mainstream museums—are still barely represented in these institutions.


This article by Carlos Tortolero, the director and founding father of the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago, appeared in the November/December 2000 issue of Museum News, which is published by the American Association of Museums in Washington, D.C. In this text, Tortolero counters the assumption among museum professionals that inclusiveness initiatives have diversified mainstream museums, contending instead that highly qualified people of color are barely represented on the boards and staffs of such institutions. In considering the role racism plays in keeping people of black race out of museums, this document addresses the research topic “Issues of Race, Class, and Gender in the Visual Arts of Latino-America,” and in considering the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum’s success in employing Mexican-Americans and attracting a diverse audience, it addresses the research topic “Globalization and its Latin American (Dis)/Contents.” (See related text by Tortolero, doc. no. 867636.)

Victor Alejandro Sorell, Gabrielle Toth; Harper Montgomery, collaborator
Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, USA
© The American Alliance of the Museums. Reprinted with permission.