Museum Of Fine Arts In Boston Responds To Backlash After A Group Of 7th-Graders Were Racially Profiled During A Class Trip

May 27, 2019  |  

Appeal to the Great Spirit 1909 equestrian statue by Cyrus Dallin outside the Museum of Fine Arts.

Source: Jeff Greenberg / Getty

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston responded to backlash after a group of seventh graders were racially profiling during a recent visit.

According to NBC News, two members of the museum were banned from visiting the museum and their memberships were revoked after making disparaging remarks to a group of 30 students during a May 16 trip.

Marvelyne Lamy, a teacher at Helen Y Davis Leadership Academy detailed the horrifying encounter in a Facebook post, stating that the students were told by a tour guide, “no food, no drink, and no watermelon” as they entered the premises and also shared that a patron made a disparaging comment about another girl stripping as she danced to music in one of the exhibits.

A shameful experience as the students were merely trying to increase their knowledge of art history and culture.

“We were instructed not to touch any of the artifacts in the museum, yet the white students there touched the displays several times while security looked on without saying anything. The minute one of our students followed suit, the security guards would yell at them that they should not touch exhibits,” Lamy wrote.

“Throughout our walk through, they followed us. Many of our students grew agitated.

At the end, we went through the gender bending exhibit where the security guard followed our every movement. It got so bad that I started gathering our students so we could leave. I was pulling one of my students to come out the exhibit, when she said that one of the visitors made a comment towards her when she was dancing to music included in the exhibit. The visitor said that’s it’s a shame that she is not learning and instead stripping. That’s when I had it. I told them we are leaving right now.”

On May 24, the museum responded via their website and detailed plans to circumvent instances like this in the future.

“We have identified the patrons who made the disparaging remarks and revoked their memberships, banning them from the Museum’s grounds,” the museum stated. “We will serve them with a no-trespass cease-and-desist notification.”

“These young people left the Museum feeling disrespected, harassed and targeted because of the color of their skin, and that is unacceptable,” Matthew Teitelbaum, a director at the museum, continued in a statement. “This is a fundamental problem that we will address as an institution, both with immediate steps and long-term commitments.”

According to Teitelbaum, the museum will also ensure front facing staff receive training on “how to engage with incoming school groups about policies and guidelines,” and will consult with outside experts on “mandatory unconscious bias training.”

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