Friday, November 22, 2013
Jada Wright-Greene is on a mission to change the face of the museum world with more African-Americans – as museum professionals, as audiences and supporters. Her interest in the museum field began as a student at Bethune Cookman (College) in Daytona, Florida where she volunteered at the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation, home of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. While volunteering, she was fascinated with the artifacts, people and spirit of Dr. Bethune.
After stints studying law and urban planning at Michigan State University, Jada rediscovered her true passion and enrolled in the school’s museum studies program. She received a grant from the university fulfilling her dream of a research trip that would include six historic homes and she was certain this was her life’s work. But what she didn’t know was that she would be the first African-American to complete the program. At that point, she knew she had to do more than just love museums, diversifying the museum field had to be a way of life.
Following a 14-year nonprofit management career with museums, arts and community organizations, Jada created Heritage Salon in 2009, a blog dedicated to African-American museum culture. The online promenade includes the “Parlour” section of the website that highlights museums, institutions and historic homes; and the “Drawing Room” that features interviews with young museum professionals.
To further spread her message of diversity, Jada regularly gives keynote presentations and interviews on the topic. Her presentations include serving as a lecturer at the Houston Museum of African-American Culture on the topic of “Performances & Challenges of African-American Museums;” and this past August Jada presented at the Association of African American Museums conference on the topic, “Audience Member & Voice for African American Museums.” During her session, she shared her experiences as a museum audience member and museum professional, and cited data from the Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Policy and Analysis that found in the local DC area, just 4% of visitors and audience members were African-American compared to 83% of Whites.
This month, Heritage Salon added another achievement – the first issue of Heritage Salon magazine, the only publication dedicated to African-American museums, cultural institutions, and historic sites and homes. The magazine was incorporated as a 501c3 with a mission to educate diverse audiences, engage diverse professionals for the museum profession and increase diverse museum patrons to these institutions. The magazine is free to all and provides readers an opportunity to become educated about institutions and museum professionals.
Jada envisions a world where every Historically Black College and University has a museum studies program, more diverse audiences are visiting museums and museums are a way of life.
To support Heritage Salon, read the publication here, spread the word, visit an African-American museum and donate in order to keep the magazine available free of charge to everyone. Donations can be made online at: www.heritagesalon.com.