Indianapolis Museum of Art President Charles Venable Resigns, Board Issues Apology

  • February 18, 2021 16:25

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Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields President Charles Venable has resigned after the museum listed a job for a director to "attract a broader and more diverse audience while maintaining the Museum's traditional, core, white art audience."

After a public outcry, a statement from the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors appeared on the Newfields' website Wednesday: "We are sorry. We have made mistakes. We have let you down," the statement reads. "We are ashamed of Newfields’ leadership and of ourselves. We have ignored, excluded, and disappointed members of our community and staff. We pledge to do better. For those expressing outrage and frustration—we are listening."

A petition with over 1,500 signatures, along with open letters from community members and staff at the museum who have been speaking out against the direction at Newfields, led to the resignation and board statement. 

In July, Kelli Morgan, an associate curator of American art, resigned from the museum, citing a “toxic” environment and a discriminatory work culture. Morgan had been recruited to promote more culturally diverse galleries. Among issues, she noted a "racist rant" by one board member in a letter to Venable. 

Venable had also been criticized for other changes at the museum, including charging an admissions fee that made the museum less accessible to the community. 

The board statement says, "In the next 30 days, we will publicly share a detailed action plan, with specific deadlines...".

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