While many demand inclusive Latino representation in the art we see on museum walls, the people who actually work in museums are often neglected….
We rarely see Latinos as curators, museum directors or historians. Of the 30% of people of color in staff positions in the U.S. art world, most of these are in janitorial and security positions.
This has an impact on participants. One study shows that fewer Latinos visit museums because they don’t see themselves. Participants want to see other Latinos working at museums, but not just as janitors.
Latino museum workers tend to be underpaid and treated poorly. Recently, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles fired dozens of museum docents and visitor services workers after they tried to unionize to demand better working conditions.
Prominent activists have been advocating for a Latino Smithsonian Museum since 2004, and a recent UCLA study of the Smithsonian said there was a “consistent pattern of Latino exclusion” on staff. Leadership positions for Latinos grew a mere 3% from 2014-2018, compared to 88% of new white hires!
When we talk about Latino inclusion, it needs to go beyond the art. Fair representation includes the workers inside the museum walls.