Celebrating MLK — It Starts with Me
By Bill Griswold, Director and President
On Monday, January 16, the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) opens its doors and special exhibitions — as we do every year — for a free daylong celebration honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It seems fitting that we also reflect on the commitment we’ve made to honoring Dr. King’s vision of tolerance, inclusiveness, and respect for one another on this day as well.
The CMA has always sought to bring the pleasure and meaning of art to the broadest possible audience. The statement “for the benefit of all the people forever” was written into Jeptha Wade’s 1892 deed of gift for the land on which the museum stands, and reflects our founders’ belief that museums should be places for inspiration and for creating wonder and meaning in all people’s lives.
In 2017, we renewed our commitment to creating an environment for open dialogue and inclusive cultural experiences with the adoption of our first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan, the most comprehensive such plan published by a major art museum in the United States. With this plan, our board and staff came together to develop a clear, actionable path to ensure that the museum truly reflects the people of our region and truly fulfills our mission to create transformative experiences through art, for the benefit of all people forever.
We’ve made significant progress over the past five years by removing barriers, creating opportunities, and using the collection as a means for bringing people together to learn, discuss, and draw inspiration from great works of art. Our achievements include the acquisition of numerous works by BIPOC and women artists, development of a new Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the Board of Trustees, and implementation of DEI hiring practices and internal training programs.
The museum’s mission is as relevant and important today as it was more than one hundred years ago. It remains a place to explore history and creativity, a venue for the exchange of ideas, and an institution where neighbors can celebrate their differences and reflect on their shared humanity. In today’s increasingly fractured society, our mandate — to serve “all the people” — resonates more loudly and widely than ever before.
The CMA has been celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day with activities since the 1970s and opened the museum on the holiday beginning in 1999. We invite you to join us for this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration on Monday, January 16, where you can explore the theme “It Starts with Me: Cultivating a Beloved Community Mindset to Transform Unjust Systems” through storytelling, art making, and reflective writing prompts. The museum will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with activities and tours from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. For more information, visit the CMA website: https://www.clevelandart.org/events/special-events/dr.-martin-luther-king-jr.-day.