It Is Intolerable. It Is Unjust.

June 1, 2020

Dear Friends,

The last days in Minneapolis, in Boston, and across the United States have been devastating. The killing of George Floyd, and many others before him, is intolerable. It is unjust. Pain. Sadness. Outrage. It is all real…across our communities, our staff, and our governing bodies. I want to begin by acknowledging the pain and searing sadness of this moment for Black colleagues at the MFA. I can only imagine the cascade of feelings. I write with great respect.

It is past time to recognize that the usual commitments to change are not enough, and that we have an obligation to make a difference. Only demonstrable actions will evidence a commitment. We acknowledge that the MFA, like many art and cultural organizations across America, has work to do to become the institution to which we aspire. This is the time for us to determine: “How will the MFA take the lead on bridging and healing the divides that exist among us?”

We will show that we recognize the experiences and beliefs of others, that all have a voice. Our presentations of art, and our support for artists will proclaim this. Our organization will embody this. Our audiences will reflect this.

We commit to action, to listen, to do, to speak, to gather, to insist.

We will continue to diversify staff, management, and board governance to represent all of Boston and report regularly on our progress to hold ourselves publicly accountable; continue to diversify programming to recognize the voices and views of many and celebrate art in many forms; give all staff the training and learning opportunities so they can understand and support the necessary changes; commit transparently to our Community Engagement Plan that creates a presence for the MFA in collaboration with communities across Boston, including our commitment to reconciliation with the Davis Leadership Academy students and community; continue to underline the Museum as a place where we entangle ourselves in the important issues of our time; become a place of convening where we discover and share the expression of our civic responsibilities, in part through consistent engagement with thought leaders in many sectors.

We will do this by consistently recognizing and honoring our visitors, who bring the richness of their lives through our doors, in all its complexity.

What we recognize makes us stronger. An invitation to belong can change a life. An invitation to connect and preserve is a spirit to celebrate. This is the MFA that Boston needs. This is the MFA that will—and must—reflect the best aspirations expressed within, and for our communities.

Black lives matter.

Matthew Teitelbaum
Ann and Graham Gund Director