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Toledo Museum of Art responds to criticism over internal memo regarding protests

The museum is reaffirming its commitment to inclusion and diversity after an internal memo was posted to social media and received criticism.

TOLEDO, Ohio — The Toledo Museum of Art is reassuring the public of its commitment to inclusion and diversity after getting scrutiny on Facebook on one of its posts about the current Black Lives Matter protests.

Director Adam Levine said the museum is, and continues to be, a platform for everyone in the community. But he understands the frustration the black community in Toledo and across the country are feeling.

There is immense pain and anger flowing throughout our community, th... e causes of which are many: the unconscionable deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others; the violent clashes that have occurred here in Toledo and around the country; the ongoing anxiety and fear around COVID-19.

"Whenever anyone comments, we listen," Levine said, "and we hear those who are upset with us, we apologize to those who we upset and we will do better."

Levine said diversity in art is an integral part of the organization's mission.

"Black lives matter, black artists matter, we promote them," he said. "We're in an exhibition, a retrospective of them right now and we're committed to giving a voice to black artists."

The Facebook post in question was a bi-weekly internal memo sent to staff that the museum made public with the community to let them know they were thinking of what is going on.

"Those two notes sent internally to staff were, on the one hand, to tee up our thinking," Levine noted. "And on the second, to demonstrate not just in words, but in actions, what we've been working on for the last several months."

The museum was already working on its "Mirror, Mirror" exhibition for black artist Alison Saar before protests broke out. Its Facebook post said the organization does not have a "political stance" but exists to give a platform and voice to all.

"The commentary was not that museums shouldn't engage politics," Levine said. "The commentary was that museums shouldn't be seen to be partisan and there's nothing partisan about thinking that human beings deserve a right to live."

Levine emphasized the museum is working on concrete actions and initiatives to continue its mission of being inclusive and a representation of the entire community.

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