Current calls for social justice demand that we act to confront racism both today and in the past. In this exhibition, we investigate how historical art and design objects contain untold stories of slavery and how the museum as an institution enables racism through the glorification of slave owners and under representation of Black artists. We seek to reveal the ways in which the unfree and unjust labor of enslaved people has been fundamental to the creation of our society and institutions.
Many museum stakeholders and decision-makers continue to neglect and actively ignore the legacy of slavery that is hidden in their collections. The Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been grappling with how to responsibly present this legacy to the public and welcomed our class to suggest a pathway forward. The first step is to challenge this erasure and re-contextualize the legacy of slavery in museums. As students in the Art History Department’s Fall 2020 Museum class with the privilege of curating this exhibit, it is our responsibility to actively seek and share the truth behind this collection.
Prof. Ann Smart Martin
Art History/Material Culture