As U.S. museums become the subject of controversy for their response to the ongoing protests over the killing of George Floyd by policemen in Minneapolis, one major art institution has said it will stop contracting the police for special events.
The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis has made a public declaration saying that it will cut its ties to the Minneapolis Police Department. In an Instagram statement that explicitly mentioned the Black Lives Matter movement and Floyd’s death, the museum wrote, “the Walker will no longer contract the services of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) for special events until the MPD implements meaningful change by demilitarizing training programs, holding officers accountable for the use of excessive force, and treating communities of color with dignity and respect. Enough is enough.”
No other major U.S. museum has made as direct a response to the ongoing protests as the Walker, which is located in the city where demonstrations first occurred. The statement is a sign that museums are beginning to heed the calls of activists, who have demanded over the past few days that institutions of all kinds take accountability for their connections to the police, systemic racism, and the carceral state.
Earlier this week, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City weathered controversy for the police presence on its grounds. The museum’s security department had reportedly allowed police to park squad cars on its property, which generated an outcry. Nelson-Atkins director Julián Zugazagoitia told Kansas City’s NPR affiliate that, when he found out about this, he asked the police to vacate museum grounds. The museum later apologized for the police presence, saying, “We deeply regret and understand the hurt and confusion that this may have caused.”