In 1970, the artist and activist Dana Chandler wrote “A Proposal to Eradicate Institutional Racism at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts,” a manifesto challenging the MFA (and, by inference, similar institutions) to represent Black artists in their collections and exhibitions, and to support Black self-determination in the arts by financially backing Black-centered arts institutions. Shortly after Chandler wrote his manifesto, the MFA formed a partnership with the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists. Together with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, the institutions collaborated on the exhibition “Afro‐American Artists: New York and Boston.” On view from May 19 to June 23, 1970, the exhibition was part of larger conversations around equity of representation in cultural organizations at the time. Fifty years later, equity and representation for Black artists, staff, and other museum stakeholders remains an urgent and unsolved issue.
Dana Chandler’s Manifesto
For the first time ever, see a PDF facsimile of Chandler’s letter and his ensuing correspondence with former MFA director Perry Rathbone.
These archival documents are also available in a transcript (PDF).